Expanding Large, Local Solar in a Big Way

Five years ago, the sun was just starting to rise (so to speak) on our expansion of large, local solar resources.

TEP’s first ‘large’ system in Tucson was dedicated in January 2011. The 1.6 megawatt system, built in southeast Tucson, brought TEP’s large-scale solar generating capacity to a total of about 9 megawatts (MW).

Today, TEP has more than 240 MW of large-scale solar capacity, enough to power 48,000 homes for a year. The most recent addition was completed in February with the 21 MW expansion of our largest community scale resource – the Avalon solar project located near Pima Mine Road in Green Valley. Avalon’s first phase, with 35 MW of solar capacity, was completed in December 2014.

Although diminutive compared to the size of some modern systems, our first local array demonstrated how TEP would expand its community-scale solar portfolio for the benefit of customers. The 1.6 MW system was the first of several built in the “Solar Zone” at the University of Arizona’s Science and Technology Park. It was also the first system to produce power for customers participating in TEP’s Bright Tucson Community Solar program.

Since then, TEP has pursued projects that were both cost-effective and reliable. Most systems were built in Tucson and southern Arizona, where customers live and where projects helped to create local jobs. When possible, systems were built on degraded or previously disturbed land, helping to reduce impact on the environment.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a nod to our solar resources in Springerville, Ariz., which was once the largest solar array in the country. We’ve expanded there, too.

And we’ll continue expanding renewable resources and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. TEP anticipates expanding our total renewable energy portfolio to approximately 1,200 MW by 2030.