Tucson Electric, U.S. Army dedicate 17.2-MW solar project

Tucson Electric Power (TEP) joined military and other federal officials on Feb. 11 to dedicate a large solar array at Fort Huachuca that will help the U.S. Army achieve its renewable energy and energy security goals.

The 17.2-MW array, completed in December, produces enough power to satisfy one-quarter of the base’s energy needs.

“This system provides Fort Huachuca with a secure source of clean renewable power at no additional cost,” said David G. Hutchens, TEP’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We worked closely with leaders at the base, the Pentagon and the U.S. Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives (OEI) to develop a unique solar solution for a very valuable TEP customer.”

TEP owns and operates the system, which ranks among the largest solar arrays on any U.S. Department of Defense installation around the world. Because TEP is combining its output with grid resources to serve the base under existing rates, the system helps the Army work toward its goal of deploying 1 GW of renewable energy resources by 2025 without increasing the base’s energy costs.

“A privately developed solar array could have increased Fort Huachuca’s total energy costs by as much as $2 million per year,” said Philip J. Dion, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Customer Solutions for TEP. “We developed a much more cost-effective solution that preserves TEP’s longstanding role as the sole provider of safe, reliable power for one of southern Arizona’s most critical assets.”

E.ON, a partner on other successful TEP solar projects, managed design and construction of the array. The system is linked to an existing TEP substation, and any excess output flows back into the company’s local grid for use by other customers.

TEP has approximately 330 MW of total renewable generating capacity, enough to meet the electric needs of about 70,000 homes. Solar power plays an important part in TEP’s increasingly diverse generating portfolio. The company said it is reducing its overall coal generation capacity by more than 30% over the next five years through increased use of renewable power, energy efficiency and natural-gas generation, including a recently-acquired share of the Gila River Power Station in Gila Bend.

TEP which provides electric service to approximately 414,000 customers in southern Arizona, is owned by Fortis Inc.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.