With Arizona reaching 1 gigawatt of solar power in 2016, second only to California, major online corporations, universities and utilities are taking advantage of every ray of sunlight in the southwestern state. In the latest example, Arizona Public Service (APS) commissioned a 40-megawatt solar farm that’s producing energy for two corporate customers, PayPal and Arizona State University (ASU).
The $90 million Red Rock Solar Plant is the largest solar producing power facility owned and operated by APS. The project is expected to bring ASU’s solar power generation to 30 percent of its campus-wide electricity needs and adds to the 25 megawatts of solar it already produces from on-campus installations. The rest of the power produced by the solar farm will support PayPal’s datacenter operations in the state.
“The construction of Red Rock is a great example of how we partner with our commercial customers to find innovative and sustainable solutions that can help them realize their green energy goals,” said Daniel Froetscher, APS senior vice president of Transmission, Distribution and Customers. “The cooperation between APS, ASU and PayPal demonstrates how the Arizona business community is committed to developing solar energy in a smart, cost-effective manner.”
Even though Arizona is one of the biggest solar markets in the US, continued growth in rooftop solar has been impeded by APS’ attempts to increase net-metering rates and fees for future rooftop solar customers. It’s already attempted to raise rates and institute demand charges for solar customers in 2015, APS filed a new proposal that would kill net-metering and significantly raise residential solar rates by 7.96 percent. Still, the utility is working to add in more solar in ways that are more beneficial to it.
“We are very pleased that the Red Rock Solar Plant will more than double our solar generating capacity to more than 50 megawatts,” said Morgan R. Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer. “This project enables us to expand our solar portfolio substantially with no initial capital investment and underscores our sustainability commitment. ASU is proud to continue building our solar collection that has grown to 88 installations since 2004. In calendar year 2017, we expect approximately 30 percent of our electrical needs will be met with clean, renewable solar energy.”
IT companies, like PayPal, are establishing interesting partnerships with utilities to install solar for their use specifically. For instance, Amazon announced a power-purchase agreement in Virginia with the utility, Old Dominion, to build 180 megawatts of solar across 5 counties that are expected to be operational by late 2017.Tweet