Planning for Apache Solar began in 2015, and we were granted the construction permit April 13, 2016. Initially, the request for proposals (RFP) to solar contractors the following month was for 2 MW, 6 MW and 14 MW projects. However, there was more interest than expected, and we negotiated with the low evaluated bidder for a 17 MW project in August 2016. We worked diligently with our Class A Members to achieve full subscription and awarded a 17 MW contract on November 22, 2016. The AEPCO Board of Directors directed AEPCO to offer 3 MW of capacity to Electrical District 2 based on its expressed interest in the project. In February 2017 the project increased to 20 MW, with ED2 subscribing to 3 MW. Our financial team linked funding to an investment tax credit that lowered the cost. Sierra Southwest Cooperative Services, Inc. (Sierra) developed and financed the project.
We began clearing the site in March 2017. To prepare the site, mesquite trees were removed while all other native grasses and vegetation were left in place to aid in dust suppression and act as natural weed inhibitors. The access road to the Wildlife View Area was relocated to the north as part of site preparation. Watch the progress from March to September 2017.
Apache Solar Fast Facts:
- 20 MW AC to the grid.
- Total acres: 134 (all existing AEPCO property)
- Total number of panels: 77,053
- Each panel produces 320 watts.
- Nine 2.5 MW inverters convert the DC power generated by the panels to AC power.
- AEPCO designed and installed a 15/20/25 MVA 69/34.5 kVA step-up transformer in the Apache 69 kV yard.
In 2015, we began assisting our California Member, Anza Electric Cooperative, with a new 2 MW, $6 million solar project that helps Anza EC meet its obligations under the state’s aggressive carbon and renewable energy standards. Meeting Riverside County’s rigorous permitting process proved unexpectedly onerous and expensive. However, our team worked through the requirements and moved the project forward. We worked separately with a cooperative lender, CoBank, to leverage Sierra and take advantage of federal tax incentives to ensure the lowest possible cost. The project was dedicated in August 2017. Watch the progress of the construction.