TUCSON, Ariz., Dec. 10, 2002 — Tucson Electric Power Co. (TEP) has activated the most recent additions to its record-setting solar array near Springerville, Ariz., increasing the system’s energy output to 2.4 MW.
The Springerville Generating Station Solar System, which includes 22,276 photovoltaic panels spread out over 28 acres, remains the most powerful grid-connected solar array operating in the Western Hemisphere. It produces enough energy to meet the annual electric needs of 420 Tucson homes.
TEP will continue to expand the system to meet a growing demand for “green” power. By the end of 2003, the site will be producing 3.2 MW. In 2004, the system will be expanded to 4 MW, surpassing the size of what is now the world’s largest photovoltaic power plant, a 3.3 MW installation in Serre, Italy.
“TEP is taking advantage of Arizona’s wonderful climate to become a world leader in solar power generation,” said James S. Pignatelli, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of TEP and its parent company, UniSource Energy Corporation (NYSE:UNS – News). “Solar power is going to be a key component of our renewable energy portfolio for years to come.”
The giant solar array covers an area nearly half a mile in length and two football fields wide in a grassy field near TEP’s coal-fired Springerville Generating Station. That site was chosen because its cool climate and 6,500-foot elevation allow a large solar array to operate more reliably than it would in Tucson.
Global Solar Energy, Inc., a solar system designer and manufacturer of thin-film photovoltaic panels, served as project manager for the installation and oversees daily construction operations. Southwest Energy Solutions (SES), a regional electric contractor, installed and connected all electrical components. Both Global Solar Energy and SES are subsidiaries of UniSource Energy Corporation.