More than 100 Phoenix area schools purchase solar energy from state’s largest solar plant

New Copper Crossing Solar Ranch will generate energy from 66,000+ solar panels on 144 acres in Florence

More than 100 schools in 11 Valley school districts are tapping into the power of the sun this school year to offset a portion of their electric needs. The school districts have agreed to participate in SRP’s new Community Solar program and are among the first customers to receive energy from the new Copper Crossing Solar Ranch in Florence.

Copper Crossing Solar Ranch is now producing 20 megawatts of solar energy – enough to power approximately 3,700 SRP customers’ homes. The recently completed facility, Iberdrola Renewables’ first solar plant in the United States and the largest in Arizona, contains approximately 66,000 high-efficiency solar panels manufactured by SunPower Corp., is located on 144 acres and uses very little water.

The school districts will purchase a total of 7,840 kilowatts of solar energy from the plant for a fixed price for 10 years. Schools benefit from price certainty as the energy purchased through Community Solar is not subject to other SRP price increases for 10 years.

“This program offers an alternative to the traditional method of installing solar systems on rooftops and allows more schools to invest in clean energy,” said SRP General Manager Mark Bonsall. “Participating schools also gain access to solar educational materials and a web portal that provides data on the plant’s production.”

“We are delighted to debut Iberdrola Renewables’ first solar project in the U.S. and the largest solar project in Arizona,” said Martin Mugica, executive vice president of Iberdrola Renewables. “We’re also happy to work again with our repeat customer SRP and to lay the foundation for our future growth in Arizona.”

Reporters are invited to tour the 20-megawatt facility at 8125 East Bella Vista Road, Queen Creek, AZ starting today until Wednesday, Sept. 7. HD Video and photos available via YouSendIt as needed. (PLEASE NOTE: The plant is located in Florence, but the MapQuest address is Queen Creek).

“We are pleased to participate and support the Earth Wise Community Solar program,” said Chandler Unified School District Superintendent Camille Casteel. “This effort will help the environment and provide our teachers with lessons to enhance our instructional program related to the benefits of solar energy.”

All education resources SRP provides to the schools meet Arizona State Academic Standards through an integrated approach. Along with those lesson plans, SRP offers $350 mini-grants to teachers who receive training on the materials that can be used to purchase hands-on materials to enhance learning.

Copper Crossing Solar Ranch will reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 575,000 metric tons over the next 25 years. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that is equivalent to taking about 4,500 vehicles off the road each year for 25 years. The energy delivered from the plant will support SRP’s Sustainable Portfolio. The SRP Board has set a goal to meet 20 percent of SRP’s retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020. Currently, SRP is ahead of schedule – providing about 7 percent of retail energy needs with sustainable resources, including renewable energy, hydro power, conservation, efficiency and pricing measures.

The following districts are participating in the program:

  • Chandler Unified School District
  • East Valley Institute of Technology
  • Florence Unified School District
  • Fountain Hills Unified School District
  • J.O. Combs Unified School District
  • Kyrene School District
  • Laveen Elementary School District
  • Osborn School District
  • Pendergast Elementary School District
  • Phoenix Union High School District
  • Tolleson Elementary School District

SRP Community Solar also is available to residential customers who want an easy, affordable way to make Arizona’s abundant sunshine work for them. Participating residential customers will pay a small premium to offset a portion of their usage with solar energy. More information about Community Solar is available at www.srpnet.com/cs.

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