UniSource Energy Services (UES) said Dec. 11 that it will expand its renewable energy portfolio next year by building a community-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) system in Mohave County, Arizona and providing small solar arrays to two Nogales high schools.
The projects are part of a UES plan to comply with Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard, which calls on utilities to increase their use of renewable power each year until it accounts for 15% of their energy by 2025. The company’s efforts are funded in part by the Renewable Energy Standard Tariff (REST), a usage-based charge on UES customers’ electric bills. In addition to approving UES’ renewable energy plan, the Arizona Corporation Commission set the monthly cap on the residential REST charge at $3.30 for 2016 – down from $3.40 this year.
In 2016, UES plans to invest up to $10 million to build a 5-MW array at an undetermined location in Mohave County. The new array will complement UES’ other company-owned renewable energy systems, including a 7.2-MW solar array near Rio Rico and a 1.2-MW solar array in Kingman. UES also purchases power from solar and wind-powered resources in Mohave County. Including customer-owned systems, UES’ renewable portfolio has a combined capacity of about 48 MW.
UES also will use $60,000 in REST funds to pay for the installation of solar PV systems at Nogales High School and Pierson Vocational High School in Nogales. Each system will have a capacity of about 10 kW and will contribute to a small reduction in the schools’ monthly electric bills. UES has previously provided solar PV systems ranging in size from 5 kW to 12 kW to high schools in Mohave and Santa Cruz counties.
UES provides electric service to approximately 93,000 customers in Mohave and Santa Cruz counties. The company also provides natural gas to approximately 150,000 customers in northern and southern Arizona. UES and its parent company, UNS Energy, are subsidiaries of Fortis Inc., which owns utilities that serve more than 3 million customers across Canada and in the United States and the Caribbean.