Arizona’s State Land Department and Arizona Public Service are working in coordination to build the first-ever solar project on Arizona State Trust lands. Nearly 400 acres in Yuma County will soon be home to the 35-megawatt APS Foothills Solar Plant. The cost to APS for a 35-year lease on the land is $10 million, which will go primarily to help fund Arizona public education.“It is a commitment we share with Governor Brewer, the Arizona Corporation Commission and other key decision makers in Arizona. Together, we have taken another important step toward creating a sustainable energy future for Arizona.”
The unprecedented decision to build this project on State land supports Arizona Governor Janice K. Brewer’s goals to facilitate and encourage renewable energy and economic development in Arizona.
“This collaboration furthers our ongoing efforts to establish Arizona as a global leader in renewable energy,” said Governor Brewer. “The project will bring quality solar jobs to Arizona and dollars to support our state’s public schools – all while utilizing Arizona’s most abundant resource, the sun, to generate clean and renewable energy. It’s the first of many solar projects that will benefit the entire state and cement our status as the ‘Solar King.’ ”
For the past eight months, the State Land Department has done extensive work to identify State Trust land sites suitable for solar development. With these locations in mind, State Land Department Commissioner Maria Baier approached APS about building a solar plant on State Trust land. This led to an independent assessment by APS to determine the most suitable development location for its next solar plant – which yielded the Yuma Foothills project site. The fit was ideal for Arizona and for the company.
The result is APS’s fifth, and largest, AZ Sun project to date. The Foothills Solar Plant will have a capacity of 35 megawatts, or enough to power 8,750 Arizona homes. All the electricity produced from this facility will be used to serve local Yuma residents.
“Through our growing investment in solar energy, we are helping the environment, creating jobs and protecting our customers against potentially volatile fuel prices,” said Don Brandt, APS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “It is a commitment we share with Governor Brewer, the Arizona Corporation Commission and other key decision makers in Arizona. Together, we have taken another important step toward creating a sustainable energy future for Arizona.”
Foothills will create more than 100 construction jobs and will break ground in August 2012. The plant is expected to come online in two phases – the first 17 MW will reach commercial operation by March 2013; the remaining 18 MW will reach commercial operation by December 2013. APS has hired Atlanta, Ga.-based AMEC to construct the facility.
The AZ Sun Program was approved by the ACC and enables APS to invest in the development of up to 200 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power plants across Arizona. APS will finance and own the projects, which are being designed and constructed by third-party solar developers, contractors and equipment providers. AZ Sun is good for APS customers because they benefit from the savings of renewable tax credits and utility-operated power plants for the entire useful life of the facilities.
The proceeds from land sales and leases of State Trust lands go to the beneficiaries of the State Land Trust, primarily Arizona Common Schools, supporting grades K-12. The Arizona State Land Department manages 9.3 million acres of Arizona State Trust Land. For more information about the Arizona State Land Department visit www.land.state.az.us or call (602) 542-4621.