(COCHISE) Calling the partnership with Arizona G&T Cooperatives(AzGT) a key “to getting it off the ground,” officials with Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative(SSVEC) dedicated their 20 megawatt solar field adjacent to the Apache Generating Station on December 21.
A group of about 50 people, including elected officials and their staff, SSVEC directors and staff, AzGT representatives and the media, gathered as the facility was shown to the public for the first time.
SSVEC CEO Creden Huber talked about the importance of being able to work with AzGT on leasing the site and how the partnership was critical to the timing of the project.
“I’d like to thank AEPCO and CEO Patrick Ledger for their assistance with this. Without them helping us and signing the lease, we wouldn’t have got this project off the ground. We were initially under a time crunch with the investment tax credit running out, and that lease was a big part of us getting this project done by the end of 2016,” Huber said.
He also commented on how the solar field gets SSVEC to an important goal, meeting the state’s 2025 renewable energy standard.
“This is a big project for us, and we’re pretty proud of the fact we’re a leader of co-op solar in Arizona,” Huber said.
“It’s an important part of our mix. Our members like renewables, and a lot of them have done rooftop solar. Quite frankly, it is an expectation of all our members that we participate in this and have renewable energy,” Huber said.
The project was built by SunPower, which designated the field as the SunPower Oasis Power Plant system.
Ty Daul, senior vice president for the company, also commented on how well the project worked because of AzGT’s involvement.
“The site itself is great to work on, because it’s relatively flat and easy to construct on,” Daul said.
“We’re working with AEPCO (Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, part of AzGT) on the overall siting and everything related to it has been really good for us. We feel like there is a good partnership with AEPCO,” Daul said.
Daul said the system utilizes sun tracking technology to maximize efficiency and delivery of power.
“We’re delivering 20 megawatts AC to the grid at peak efficiency. (The array) utilizes SunPower’s Oasis single-axis tracking system, so we follow the sun throughout the entire day to maximize performance and capture as much solar energy as we can,” Daul said.
It was cloudy as the solar field was dedicated, and Huber pointed out the weather showed the importance of having the power produced at the Apache Generating Station available 24 hours a day.
“It’s important to have a portfolio that includes all sources of power, and today’s a perfect example of why,” Huber said.
“We’re proud of the solar array, but it’s a cloudy day so it’s producing but not at full efficiency, so we need to have a portfolio of generation to serve our members’ needs 24 hours a day,” Huber said.
SSVEC will purchase the power from the solar array at a flat rate under a 20-year power purchase agreement with SunPower. SSVEC retains the renewable energy credits associated with the solar plant.