Groundbreaking of Five-Megawatt Multi-Technology Solar Installation at Arizona Western College

By Adam Lyons in : News // May 24 2011

Project Expected to Generate Virtually 100% of College’s Daytime Electricity

YUMA, Arizona – On May 24, Arizona Western College (AWC), Main Street Power Company Inc., a solar financier, developer PPA Partners, local utility Arizona Public Service (APS), and EPC Rosendin Electric will break ground on a five-megawatt solar project slated for completion in Late Summer of 2011.

The groundbreaking of this innovative solar project celebrates the culmination of years of preparation and development by the college and PPA Partners. The system will be owned and operated by Main Street Power, in partnership with financing partner MS Solar Solutions, a fully owned subsidiary of Morgan Stanley.

The system is comprised of five one-megawatt sites across the campus.  The technologies include CPV panels from SolFocus and GreenVolts, Thin Film panels from Sharp Solar, Mono Crystalline panels from Solar World and Poly Crystalline panels from Suntech. The system will utilize single-axis trackers from O Solar and dual-axis trackers from SolFocus and GreenVolts; the tracking systems allow the panels to continually track the movement of the sun in order to maximize electricity generation.

“We know of no other solar project where all five technologies are showcased at utility scale, installed by the same group, at the same time with the same equipment, tracked and optimized, and under the best solar resource in the country.  The data generated by the project should be very interesting,” stated Bruce Mercy, CEO of PPA Partners.

Designed and installed by Rosendin Electric, the project is anticipated to produce virtually 100% of the campus’ daytime electricity needs, and will save the college $40+ million dollars over the 30-year power purchase agreement with Main Street Power.  “We are building a landmark project with a great team of partners utilizing local labor while connecting AWC students to the future of renewable energy,” said Rosendin’s Director of Solar Operations, Duncan Frederick.

The College is also developing with PPA Partners, smaller demonstration systems of each technology for use in specific curriculum with access for students and researchers. An innovative Incubation area will offer a limited amount of sites for other Technology manufacturers to compare their systems with the main solar fields on Campus. And a community involvement feature will allow local and regional groups to safely tour the facilities, and learn about the manufacturing, specific technology benefits and sub systems used in construction of the project as well as learn about all the programs being offered in renewables at the College.

New curriculum offerings at the college will range from Certificate to Renewable Energy degree programs, and partnerships are in the works with universities for continuing Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. The college’s workforce training is expected to lead to thousands of clean tech jobs in the Southwest in coming years, considering the multiple planned and approved solar projects in Arizona and the surrounding states.

Renewable energy manufacturers tend to build new plants within 60 miles of major education and research centers, making this project a benchmark opportunity for future development and growth.

“This project is huge for our community, but also for the future of renewable energy education around the country. And, as colleges face increased enrollment and decreased funding, any steps we can take towards energy independence means more resources for classes, for faculty, and ultimately benefits the students,” stated AWC President Glenn Mayle.

The installation was facilitated by the APS Renewable Energy Incentive Program, which offers financial incentives to residential and commercial customers. The Program is funded by APS customers and approved by the Arizona Corporations Commission.

Jonathan W. (J.W.) Postal, Main Street Power’s Senior VP stated, “This is an exciting day for the college, for Yuma, and the solar industry, and we are proud of our innovative financing work to bring this project across the finish line.

Main Street Power Company, Inc. is a Colorado based financier of solar projects across North America,  primarily in distributed generation solar projects, in the Educational and Non Profit space.

PPA Partners, LLC, provides renewable energy development, finance and consulting services to a wide variety of clients nationally,  and works with Universities and Colleges on comprehensive programs, such as we designed with Arizona Western College.

Project Finance and Legal Partners: MS Solar Solutions, Venture Law Advisors, Stoel Rives, McDermott Will and Emery, Vireo Energy.

Utility Partner: APS Renewable Energy Incentive Program. The Program is funded by APS customers and approved by the Arizona Corporations Commission.

Construction Partners: Rosendin Electric, Sternco Engineering.

Technology Partners: Sol Focus, Green Volts, Suntech, Sharp, Solar World, Satcon, O Solar.

Press Contacts:

Lori Stofft
Director, Public Relations and Marketing
Arizona Western College
Office: +1 928-314-9595
Cell: +1 928-246-4834