Tag Archives: renewable energy

IO President Anthony Wanger.

Tech-friendly scene makes Arizona a data center hot spot

Phoenix has its head in the clouds.

Digital information—everything from financial and medical accounts to media entertainment and social networks—is now being stored in about 60 high-tech data centers throughout the Phoenix metro area, adding to the state’s growing reputation in the technology industry.

Renewable energy, geo-stability and tech-friendly legislation are a few of the reasons why Arizona has one of the highest concentrations of data centers in the United States, second only to Virginia.

Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, says one of the reasons Phoenix has seen a significant level of data center activity is power availability and competitive pricing.   

“We have very affordable power costs,” Camacho says. “Our utilities have been very flexible in supporting this industry to ensure we have dual feeds from the electrical standpoint. Having affordable power rates has been critical. The other attributes that are important to this industry as to why we have been successful are the level of infrastructure, that’s generally fiber infrastructure, and latency. We’re very favorable to the West Coast in that regard.  So our communities, as well as Cox, Century Link and others, have done a great job extending infrastructure to support this industry.”

Demand for renewable energy

As data centers continue to propagate, the demand for power increases.

A recent survey by Mortenson Construction, one of the leading data center contractors in the U.S., reported 84 percent of responding data center executives, developers and operators believe there is a need to consider renewable energy. Energy efficiency is a top concern and nearly half the survey participants believe improved technology can increase energy efficiency.

“Technology companies like Apple, eBay, Amazon and Google, all of the organizations that store massive amounts of information, tend to have leaders who are highly environmentally conscious,” explains Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council,  “They would much prefer to use renewable energy to power these data centers rather than power coming from a coal-burning plant. It’s less about the economics and more about doing the right thing.”

IO president Anthony Wanger agrees. IO, one of the largest colocation data centers in North America, has created and patented energy efficient data storage modules and operating software. In 2013, APS evaluated IO’s Power Usage Effectiveness ratings and determined the modules were more efficient than the traditional raised-floor data center environment.

In February, IO announced an agreement the company made with APS to be able to offer renewable energy to its customers.   

“We had a break through,” Wanger said. “We were able to negotiate a rate with APS that allows us to buy renewable energy. We were able to get a rate that reflects the scale of our use, and the option for our customers to simply choose to go green. For about a cent and a half more per kilowatt hour they can buy energy that is 100 percent renewable. It’s solar and wind. We have had terrific customer feedback about it.

“It’s important for us,” Wanger continues. “We want to be leaders in dematerialization and we want to be leaders in giving our customers the tools and the choices they need to manage their energy needs. Our very largest customer, Goldman Sachs, is committed to zero carbon.

“We have taken great strides in moving our energy over to renewables. I’m not going to tell 1,000 customers what they have to do,” he explains, adding that if he puts it on the menu and incentivizes it, he believes they will choose it. “We are committed to renewables, we are leaders in energy efficiency, by putting it out there, it’s going to be a needle mover.”

Making it happen

IO began with three businessmen and a foldup table from Costco, Wanger said. The table, signed by the co-founders Wanger, George Slessman and William Slessman, is somewhere in the Phoenix facility as a reminder of how they began.

“I always liked to build things. I have always been fascinated by buildings and real estate and systems and machines,” says Wanger, who comes from several generations of entrepreneurs. “I was brought up in the ‘you make your job, you don’t get a job’ mentality. Sit down. Figure it out. Make it happen. That’s the only thing that works for me.

“We’ve been really fortunate we have a really solid business with terrific institutional backers and terrific institutional customers. We’ve been able to attract some terrific talent. The way we got here is people. When I say make it happen, it isn’t just the three of us, it’s the entire team.

“Make it happen. That really is the moral of our whole story here. These data centers didn’t build themselves. These folks didn’t employ themselves. The capital didn’t raise itself. The customers didn’t identify and sign themselves. This is hard work.

He suggests that in order for Arizona to continue growing its reputation in the technology arena, it, too, will take hard work.

“If Arizona wants to continue its fantastic growth it’s going to be because it chooses to, not because it happens automatically. I feel very positive about Phoenix and Arizona’s prospects, but I think we have to be careful not to take things for granted,” Wanger says. “It’s a very competitive economy. I think we would be well advised to be purposeful in our recruiting and the way in which we create a climate where risk takers can take risks.”

Trending

Wanger and his partners at IO, which now has six locations around the globe, were among some of the early risk takers in the data center industry.

“We grew up with the GoDaddy guys. If you go back 10 or 15 years ago, they were in data centers. We were in data centers. There was another guy in data centers and that’s about it,” Wanger says.

According to a market overview analysis by CBRE, today there are about 60 data centers in the Phoenix metro area, including colocation operations and those used by individual companies. An additional 21 greenfield sites have been identified mostly in the East Valley for build-to-suit data centers.

Even with the explosion of data centers in Phoenix, Wanger says he is seeing a trend toward consolidation.

“We are moving away from square footage to more power in less space with shared highly utilized banks of computers,” he says. “I think that the Internet went from 400 markets globally to 200 to 50 markets. I think it’s on its way to being in 12 markets globally. That’s mega consolidation. We are doing everything we can do in our power to make sure Phoenix is on the winner side of that equation.”

Tech magnet

Energy affordability, access and renewable options are sited as reasons for locating power-intensive data centers in Phoenix, but there are more.

Geo-stability is an important factor when deciding a data center’s location. Arizona is free of natural disasters, making it an appealing locale.

“We don’t have hurricanes, or earthquakes or tornadoes or floods or any of those things that jeopardize a data center. We are a very sound place from that standpoint,” Zylstra says.

Moderately priced real estate with relatively low property taxes and legislative incentives sweeten the pot.

“A lot of economic policies in the legislature have supported both enterprise use and colocation centers,” Camacho says. “More recently there was legislation in the last few years that provided a sales tax exemption on server and IT equipment. That was one of the last pieces of the puzzle of being a great market in terms of allowing this market to grow and making it competitive against California and these other states.”

According to CBRE, “The financial impact of this law to a 1 MW tenant’s bottom line could be as much as $6 million to $7 million in tax credit savings over a 10-year period.”

Camacho continues, “There are tax credits available for companies of a certain investment scale, so, in a certain investment threshold, when they meet that level of capital investment, they are eligible, assuming they are going to use significant renewable energy resources, to obtain a corporate income tax credit.”

(subhead)The future

Locating data centers here is often an introductory step for some of the larger companies to test the business waters and learn about the Phoenix area.

“We’ve spent a lot of time working to support colocation operations in the market that are already here,” Camacho says. “And we are working as diligently as we can as we travel outside this market and showcase Arizona marketplace to prospective users. We’ll showcase IO data centers and Digital Realty Trust and others that are in this region with the goal of inducing these tenants to come and utilize colocation space and drive new investment and job creation at the same time.

Proximity to California has made it convenient for companies with corporate headquarters on the West Coast to locate their data centers here. “It encourages them to visit and to learn more about the operating environment. Then our goal is to talk further with them about future operational expansion. It could be back office, IT, or technology centers. Data centers and data storage are generally their first foray into evaluating this market on the office side.

“Once you become a nerve center where companies store data, then you start seeing a lot of these colocation tenants that are in these major facilities evaluating opportunities for back office expansion which generally comes with more job creation,” Camacho says.

CBRE reports a high quality of life and low cost of living have encouraged back shop operations for companies such as Wells Fargo, American Express, PayPal, Yelp and others to locate here.

“Companies tend to aggregate around each other,” Zylstra says. “At some point you get to a critical mass that people recognize and they want to be affiliated with it, connected to it.

“The recent Apple announcement is a watershed moment for us,” Zylstra says, referring to Apple’s plans to locate a data center in Mesa. “Apple is the most innovative company on Earth today. It’s the most successful company on Earth. When that kind of company makes a commitment here in Arizona it suggests that we have come into our own. I believe it is an important milestone in becoming known for technology.”

As the technology sector continues to grow, it is important to attract quality talent, he says.“ The greater the reputation the easier it is to attract and retain talent and that’s your competitive asset in a digital economy,” he says.

Drawing in talent is important, Camacho agrees, but he also says it is important to provide a continuing pipeline of trained talent in IT and technical services through our local educational system.

“That’s what is going to make this industry successful,” Camacho says. “We can see that pipeline coming through our Maricopa Community Colleges and the four-year systems that can meet the demand.

“Even though they are not large employers, there’s a very significant level of indirect technology job creation associated with these data centers. On average, you can provide anywhere from two to four indirect jobs for each of the jobs created within the companies themselves.”

energy supply - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2012

First Solar Building Latin America’s Largest Solar Plant

First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) today announced it has received board approval from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, for financing to support construction of the 141MW(ac) Luz del Norte solar power plant in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The loans, which are expected to close later this summer, clear the way for First Solar to proceed with construction planning at the site, which is near the city of Copiapo. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The OPIC board approved a loan of up to $230 million; the IFC board approved a $60 million loan.

The Luz del Norte project is the first of several projects First Solar has in its regional development pipeline, and will be the company’s initial project to start construction in Chile. The Chilean government’s National Energy Strategy includes expansion of the country’s renewable energy capacity to 20 percent of its total generated power by 2025. Energy from Luz del Norte will be supplied into the Chilean Central Interconnected System, contributing significantly towards this goal.

“The Latin American region has a growing need for innovative and efficient energy solutions right now,” said Tim Rebhorn, Senior Vice President, Americas for First Solar. “This investment support from OPIC and IFC is instrumental in bringing the project in Chile to life.”

Chile’s Atacama Desert receives some of the planet’s steadiest concentrations of direct sunlight, presenting ideal conditions for solar power generation. Widespread utilization of this tremendous resource is relatively new, and Luz del Norte represents an important advancement for development of solar energy in the region.

“The Luz del Norte project is an important step in furthering solar power development in Chile, where the potential for this clean, renewable resource is unrivalled,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC’s President and CEO. “OPIC is proud to support this investment in Chile while helping an innovative American company like First Solar expand its operations and create new markets for its products abroad.”

“Chile is a global leader in developing solar resources as a low cost element of energy supply,” said Bernard Sheahan, IFC Global Head of Infrastructure. “This engagement with Luz del Norte and First Solar exemplifies IFC’s efforts to support cutting edge transactions in emerging markets’ infrastructure.”

Rebhorn said First Solar has been working closely with the Chilean national government, industry, regional authorities and the local community to design, develop and build the Luz del Norte project. He noted that particular effort has been placed on understanding community concerns about environmental impact; national interest in the technology related to connecting the project to the grid; and the broader industry’s power requirements, among other important considerations.

“Forming strong, mutually beneficial partnerships with invested constituents is the only way to build a solid foundation for long-term success in this region, and that’s what we are working toward,” said Rebhorn.

solar

APS names McCarthy Supplier of the Year

McCarthy Building Companies was recently recognized by APS as an outstanding business partner at the 2014 APS Supplier of the Year Awards. In total, six companies were selected representing various supply chain-managed categories. McCarthy was recognized in the “Major Projects” category.

McCarthy was selected out of more than 4,000 different APS suppliers through a nomination process led by APS employees. The nominees were evaluated on their support of APS’s values such as commitment to sustainability, active involvement in the community and a focus on health, safety and environmental concerns. Companies were also assessed on customer service and overall performance.

“Our business partners are a vital resource in helping us provide safe and affordable energy for our customers,” said Barbara Gomez, APS Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer. “APS selected McCarthy and five other companies out of thousands of suppliers not only for their outstanding customer service and ongoing commitment to our company’s core values, but also for setting an example that we hope other suppliers will emulate.”

Earlier this year, McCarthy completed the installation of a large-scale 14-megawatt (MW) solar project in Yuma County called Hyder II for APS, which owns and operates the plant. In addition to Hyder II, McCarthy also completed the 18-MW APS Cotton Center Solar Station in Gila Bend, Ariz., and the 20-MW APS Chino Valley Solar Plant in Chino Valley, Ariz.

“We’ve been fortunate to work on three large-scale solar projects with APS, which is rapidly expanding its solar portfolio and solar leadership in the state,” said Scott Canada, Director of the Renewable Energy team at McCarthy Building Companies. “Our system engineering and construction expertise has helped APS harness the power of the sun and turn it into clean, renewable energy. We are honored to be recognized for our efforts by APS.”

To date, McCarthy Building Companies’ Renewable Energy team, based in Phoenix, has completed several large-scale solar installations across the desert Southwest representing a combined capacity of more than 70 MW of solar energy production. The division was named to Solar Power World’s Top 250 solar contractors list (rank #23) in September 2013.

clear energy systems coming to tempe

SRP Increases Renewable Energy Portfolio

Salt River Project has agreed to purchase an additional amount of renewable geothermal energy from a number of plants located in the Imperial Valley of southern California. SRP has amended its agreement with CalEnergy, LLC to add an additional 37 megawatts to a previous contracted agreement of 50 megawatts for a combined capacity of 87 megawatts. One megawatt is about enough energy to power approximately 250 homes in the Phoenix area.

The geothermal facilities are located in Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area – one of the world’s most prolific regions for the production of renewable energy. SRP’s purchase will begin with 18 megawatts in 2016 and grow to the full 87 megawatts in 2020. The agreement will allow SRP to continue providing its customers with sustainable energy from these facilities until 2039.

A geothermal plant produces electricity from naturally occurring geothermal fluid. Steam is formed when production wells tap into superheated water reservoirs thousands of feet beneath the Earth’s surface. Unlike other forms of renewable energy such as solar or wind, geothermal power plants are highly reliable as they produce energy continuously, irrespective of the time of the day or weather conditions.

Geothermal is one of the cleanest sources of baseload generation because, instead of burning fossil fuel to heat water into steam as seen in most conventional forms of generation, heat from the Earth is used to create steam that powers a turbine generator. Geothermal energy is considered renewable energy because no fuel is consumed and the energy is from naturally occurring sources.

SRP estimates that the geothermal power generated by the project will offset approximately 800 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year – the equivalent of taking about 70,000 cars off the road.

Under SRP’s Sustainable Portfolio goals, SRP must meet 20 percent of its retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020.

SRP is the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix area, serving nearly 990,000 electric customers.

renewable energy projects

SRP, ASU partner to research renewable energy initiatives

Salt River Project (SRP) and the Conservation and Renewable Energy Collaboratory (CREC) at ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation (CTI) have partnered for a second year to award a $170,000 grant to fund research initiatives in renewable energy and conservation.

This year the SRP-CREC research program selected four projects for funding. Projects include: reliability and performance testing of batteries in hot and dry climates; solar hot water system testing and evaluation; use of algae for bioremediation of water; and evaluation of solar photovoltaic (PV) performance and degradation.

“CTI faculty and students collaboratively work with our industry partners like SRP to define important, use-inspired research problems,” said Mitzi Montoya, vice provost and dean of CTI. “Industry partners like SRP are the foundation of the college and provide an important component of our project-based learning and applied research model.”

In addition to its sponsorship of the CREC research program, SRP has been a long-standing supporter and sponsor of the iProjects program at CTI. iProjects pair students with mentors and companies to find solutions to real world-challenges. This year, two student teams will work on projects that will benefit SRP and the electric utility industry. One team will develop an electrical model that will allow the utility industry to better plan for and forecast the impact of distributed generation and energy storage methods on high penetration utility systems. A second team will work to develop a portable battery impedance tester for battery technicians to monitor battery state of health on solar installations and substations.

“During our partnership with CTI, we have engaged in innovative research with talented faculty and students on important issues affecting SRP and our customers,” said John Sullivan, SRP’s associate general manager and chief resources executive.  “We are pleased with the collaborative relationship that SRP is developing with CTI, and we look forward to continuing to develop this important partnership in the coming year.”

geothermal

SRP Taps into Super-Hot Renewable Energy Resource

Salt River Project has signed an agreement with CalEnergy, LLC for the purchase of 50 megawatts (MW) of geothermal energy from a number of plants located in the Imperial Valley of southern California. CalEnergy, LLC and its affiliates, subsidiaries of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company and TransAlta Corporation, own and operate the geothermal facilities located near the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area is one of the world’s most prolific regions for the production of renewable energy.  SRP’s purchase will begin with 18MW in 2016 and grow to the full 50 megawatts in 2019.  The agreement will allow SRP to continue providing its customers with sustainable energy from these facilities until 2039.  The geothermal power generated by the project will offset approximately 460 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year – the equivalent of taking about 40,000 cars off the road.

A geothermal plant produces electricity from naturally occurring geothermal fluid.  Steam is formed when production wells tap into superheated water reservoirs thousands of feet beneath the Earth’s surface.  Unlike other forms of renewable energy such as solar or wind, geothermal power plants are highly reliable as they produce energy continuously, irrespective of the time of the day or weather conditions.

Geothermal is one of the cleanest sources of baseload generation because, instead of burning fossil fuel to heat water into steam as seen in most conventional forms of generation, heat from the Earth is used to create steam that powers a turbine generator.  Geothermal energy is considered renewable energy because no fuel is consumed and the energy is from naturally occurring sources.

SRP also has agreements to purchase geothermal energy from the Hudson Ranch facility in southern California which began operating in 2012, and the Cove Fort plant currently under construction in Utah.

Under SRP’s Sustainable Portfolio goals, SRP must meet 20 percent of its retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020.  SRP’s sustainable portfolio is currently providing more than 10 percent of retail energy needs with sustainable resources such as solar, wind, landfill gas, geothermal, biomass, hydro and energy-efficiency measures.

SRP is the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix area, serving nearly 970,000 electric customers.

Solar_Power

3 renewable energy projects approved

The Interior Department has approved three renewable energy projects in Nevada and Arizona that officials say will generate enough electricity to power nearly 200,000 homes. The projects are the first renewable energy projects on public lands approved by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell since she took office in April.

The projects will deliver a combined 520 megawatts to the electricity grid through solar plants in Nevada and Arizona and a geothermal plant in Nevada.

The 350-megawatt Midland Solar Energy Project is near Boulder City, Nev., while the 100-megawatt Quartzsite solar project is near Quartzsite. The 70-megawatt New York Canyon Geothermal Project is in Pershing County near Lovelock, Nev.

Interior has approved 45 utility-scale renewable energy projects since 2009, including 25 solar sites, 9 wind farms and 11 geothermal plants.

Pending Favorable Legislation For Investors In Renewable Energy

Despite significant investments in renewable energy technologies in the US, manufacturing and deployment of renewable energy has lagged relative to the size of the US economy according to the recently released “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race 2012,” published by The Pew Charitable Trust. In an effort to spur investment, bipartisan legislation was recently re-introduced to allow investors in renewable energy projects to get the same treatment under the US tax code that allows investors in coal, oil and gas to utilize Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) to attract capital. The Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act would amend the US tax code to allow entities producing electricity from certain renewable energy sources, alternative fuels and storage devices to monetize the tax benefits in the same manner as when investing in more traditional forms of energy. If this legislation passes, it will provide the opportunity for increased development in renewable energy in the US, which means improved economic development for our economy.


For more information contact Michelle De Blasi, Shareholder
Greenberg & Traurig
deblasim@gtlaw.com; 602.445.8485; www.gtlaw.com

SRP-CFLbulbs

SRP Board Approves Price Decrease

The Salt River Project Board today approved a price decrease that will result in lowering customer bills by an overall average of 1.1% beginning in May.

The pricing plan reduces two components of SRP’s electric prices and will be in effect for the six summer billing months in 2013, saving a typical residential customer about $1.72 per month.

One of the price components covers program costs related to meeting renewable-energy and energy-efficiency standards, and complying with environmental mandates. The second component recovers fuel costs incurred to generate electricity as well as power purchases to serve customer needs.

The costs of these two components to SRP are directly passed to the customer and are not marked up. They are included in the energy charge amount on the monthly bill.
The lower-than-expected costs, totaling $20.5 million, resulted from:

· higher-than-expected, year-to-date electricity sales to customers,
· cost savings from a short-term sale of energy from a geothermal plant,
· lower-than-anticipated program costs, and
· lower-than-planned natural gas costs.

The temporary price reduction also reflects SRP’s effort to achieve its Sustainable Portfolio goals at a lower-than-anticipated cost to customers. The SRP Board has set a goal to meet 20 percent of SRP’s retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020.

Currently, SRP is ahead of schedule – providing more than 10 percent of retail energy needs with sustainable resources, which include renewable energy, hydro power, conservation, efficiency and pricing measures.

SRP budgets for environmental and fuel/purchased power costs based on current and projected market conditions. Under a mechanism approved by the Board, SRP staff regularly reviews actual costs and may adjust the associated price components if funds are significantly over-collected or under-collected for the expenses.

SRP is the third-largest public power utility in the country, serving about 970,000 electric customers.

rsz_walmart

Walmart Expands Solar Initiative in Arizona

Walmart today launched an expansion of its solar initiative in Arizona at its Buckeye distribution center near Phoenix.

The distribution center will feature Walmart’s largest solar installation to date with more than 14,000 solar panels on a 1 MSF building and parking canopies that will produce up to 30% of the center’s energy needs.

The solar panels at the distribution center alone will generate up to 5.3 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy per year, which is the equivalent of powering more than 400 homes and taking equivalent of approximately 600 cars off the road.

Making use of one of the region’s most obvious resources, Walmart is expanding its sustainability efforts in Arizona at its Buckeye distribution center, one of Walmart’s largest structures.

This is the company’s second distribution center solar project in Arizona, coming just over a year after 2 MW project in Casa Grande, Arizona, that used a combination of ground mounted and solar shaded parking canopy structures. According to the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, Arizona ranks third in the U.S. for solar installations.

“Environmental sustainability is an essential ingredient to us for doing business responsibly and successfully,” said David Ozment, Senior Director of Walmart Energy. “As the world’s largest retailer, our actions have the potential to save our customers money and help substantially reduce our carbon footprint for generations to come.”

Given the size of the Buckeye solar installation, the combination of ground mounted, roof mounted, and shaded canopy structures at Arizona distribution centers Walmart will be better positioned to transfer learnings to other Walmart facilities across the country.

“Arizona has established itself as a national and global leader in the solar industry,”  Gov. Jan Brewer said. “The fact that Walmart has the vision to recognize the benefits of renewable energy shows great promise for the future of solar in our state.”

Since launching its solar pilot program in May 2007, Walmart strengthened its commitment to renewable energy across the country. Currently, Walmart has more than 180 renewable energy projects in operation and development around the world, generating enough energy to power 78,000 American homes annually.

These renewable energy projects include solar rooftops, micro-wind on parking lots, biodiesel generators and fuel cells. In fact, the company recently unveiled the addition of a 1MW wind turbine at its Red Bluff distribution center in California, as well as the 100th solar installation in the state.

The combined focus on renewable energy in Arizona and across the country contributes to the company’s aspirational goal to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy.

“In person, the solar installation at Walmart’s Buckeye distribution center is even more inspiring than it was when Walmart and SolarCity first envisioned it,” said Albert Laird, SolarCity Arizona Regional Vice President. “It represents our largest installation on a single building and clearly reflects Walmart’s ongoing commitment to renewable energy.”

 

solar panels, renewable energy

As Renewable Energy Makes Process, Energy Policy To Be Explored

An unlikely group of bedfellows gathered for a private meeting last month to discuss the future of energy policy in Arizona. While they didn’t solve any issues, there is a measure of success in simply convening dialogue among this small but powerful group of diverse stakeholders representing the governor’s office, state legislature, Arizona Corporation Commission, utilities, private industry and the nonprofit sector. Objective, civil discourse on sometimes contentious topics can be productive.

The renewable energy sector has made inroads in Arizona, including the following notable accomplishments:

  • In 2001, Arizona established one of the first Renewable Portfolio Standards in the U.S. and today are targeting 15 percent by 2025, with the highest solar carve out in the nation.
  • The National Renewable Energy Lab ranks Arizona the best state for solar capacity.
  • Greater Phoenix is home to both pioneering research institutions as well as the world’s largest solar generation projects.
  • Arizona offers renewable companies refundable corporate income tax credits and reduced real and personal property taxes. Arizona passed landmark legislation opening the door for renewable energy companies to expand here — not just solar, but also wind, biofuel, geothermal and other technologies.
  • Our major utilities are servicing more than 30,000 Arizona customers with rooftop solar.
  • In addition, utilities have installed more than 316 MWs of energy through large-scale solar projects and 225 MW of wind energy in the state.
  • We have relatively low electricity rates compared to many other states in the country.
  • And, our energy efficiency standard is also very aggressive.

However, energy policy in Arizona has gone virtually unchanged since we became a state 100 years ago, so it is inevitably time to evaluate and explore what’s next and best for our state’s energy future. As a non-partisan, third-party interest, Arizona Forward is committed to helping ascertain how major stakeholders can work together on critical statewide issues and is dedicated to continuing this productive dialogue among energy sector leaders.

first solar

First Solar Names Antoun As COO

First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq:FSLR) today announced that Georges Antoun has been appointed Chief Operating Officer. Antoun will initially have responsibility for manufacturing, R&D, quality and product management. Reporting to Antoun will be Tymen DeJong, Senior Vice President of Global Operations; Raffi Garabedian, Chief Technology Officer; and Tom Kuster, Vice President of Product Management and Customer Support.

“Georges brings a depth of operational leadership experience that will help First Solar execute its strategy,” said Jim Hughes, First Solar CEO.

Most recently Antoun was a venture partner at Technology Crossover Ventures, a private equity and venture firm. Prior to joining TCV, he was the head of Product Area IP & Broadband Networks for Ericsson. He joined Ericsson in 2007 when Ericsson acquired Redback Networks, where he had served as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Operations. After the acquisition, Antoun was promoted to CEO of Redback. Prior to Redback, he spent five years at Cisco Systems, where he served as Vice President of Worldwide Systems Engineering and Field Marketing, Vice President of Worldwide Optical Operations, and Vice President of Carrier Sales. He has also held senior management positions at Newbridge Networks and Nynex (now Verizon Communications), where he was part of its Science and Technology Division.

Antoun earned a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a master’s degree in information systems engineering from NYU-Poly.

First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems which use its advanced thin-film modules. The company’s integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module collection and recycling, First Solar’s renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment.

For more information about First Solar, visit www.firstsolar.com.

Solar in Australia

First Solar To Provide Power Projects Under Australian Solar Flagships Program

First Solar announced it will design, construct and maintain two utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power projects totaling 159 megawattsAC (MW) for AGL Energy Limited as part of Australia’s Solar Flagships Program. AGL was selected as the successful proponent in the solar PV category of the program and will receive federal and state government funding to help deliver on its commitment to greater investment in renewable electricity generation.

The Australian Government’s Solar Flagships Program is one of a number of programs and market mechanisms providing unprecedented support for the development of a broad range and scale of solar energy projects and technologies in Australia. The Solar Flagships Program is offering funding to support the construction and demonstration of large-scale, grid connected solar (PV and thermal) power stations in Australia.

Under the program, AGL will develop a 106 MWAC project in Nyngan and a 53 MWAC project in Broken Hill, both in New South Wales. First Solar will design and construct the integrated PV power plants, using its leading engineering, procurement and construction services and its advanced thin-film PV modules for both projects. First Solar will also maintain both projects for AGL Energy for their first five years of commercial operation. The electricity produced by the projects will be sold under power purchase agreements to AGL Hydro Partnership, a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL.

The projects will be supported with funding provided by the federal government and the state government of New South Wales under separate funding agreements.

“This is a significant step forward for the utility-scale solar industry in Australia—an order of magnitude increase in project size—and a testimony to the confidence our customers have in First Solar technology and its performance in some of the hottest and harshest conditions in the world,” said Jim Hughes, First Solar Chief Executive Officer. “These projects demonstrate First Solar’s ability to apply its vertically integrated capabilities to deliver competitive, comprehensive, utility-scale solar solutions in future sustainable markets. We look forward to working with AGL on more projects like this in the future.”

On an annual basis, the projects will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of at least 30,000 Australian homes. The projects are expected to provide approximately 350 GWh of energy annually.

The projects are expected to create approximately 450 jobs at peak construction. Construction is expected to begin on both projects in 2014, with commercial operation in 2015. AGL will be the majority owner of the project vehicle.

“AGL is delighted to be working with the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments, the people of Broken Hill and Nyngan, and our project partner First Solar to deliver these significant renewable energy projects. These projects represent a tremendous opportunity for AGL and the broader solar industry to begin the roll-out of solar power as a meaningful source of generation supply in Australia,” said Michael Fraser, AGL’s Managing Director.

AGL is one of Australia’s leading integrated renewable energy companies and is taking action toward creating a sustainable energy future for investors, communities and customers. Drawing on over 175 years of experience, AGL operates retail and merchant energy businesses, power generation assets and an upstream gas portfolio. AGL has Australia’s largest dual fuel customer base. AGL has a diverse power generation portfolio including base, peaking and intermediate generation plants, spread across traditional thermal generation as well as renewable sources including hydro, wind, landfill gas and biomass. AGL is Australia’s largest private owner and operator of renewable energy assets and is looking to further expand this position by exploring a suite of low emission and renewable energy generation development opportunities.

For more information on First Solar and Australia’s Solar Flagships Program, visit First Solar’s website at firstsolar.com and visit Australian Government’s website at ret.gov.au.

Dan Pierce, President of Kitchell, AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Q&A: President Dan Pierce of Kitchell

Q&A: Dan Pierce, President of Kitchell

Q: Technology is playing an important role in today’s construction market. What are some of the latest advancements you’re seeing utilized to make building better?

A: We’ve seen remarkable advances with respect to building information modeling (BIM) technologies. The capacity to share information efficiently has enhanced our ability to collaborate with owners and architects. Tablets, iPads, laptops and smartphones are commonplace — the line between design and construction has blurred. And I’ve been very impressed with the caliber of the young people who have chosen construction as a career. Their aptitude in leveraging the various technologies are enhancing our capacity to service our customers.

Q: How has Kitchell developed such a strong presence in healthcare?

A: I think that we’ve managed to develop strong relationships with our customers over the years. For example, we have worked on the hospital campuses that are now part of Banner Health since 1962. Those types of relationships have helped us anticipate many of the challenges that face healthcare providers in our marketplace. We see ourselves as strategic partners.

Q: Are you seeing signs of promise in Arizona’s commercial construction industry?

A: Despite Arizona’s oversupply in most market sectors of the built environment and the fact that we will likely be lagging most areas of the country in terms of economic recovery, we are seeing more activity in 2012 with a number of our design partners. Our development company is also seeing more activity. I see that as a very positive sign and I am optimistic.

Q: How has Kitchell managed to stay successful during the past five years?

A: Because of our diversity, we have been able to remain nimble and adaptive to the marketplace. This is what makes us unique. The size of our company — and the fact we’re employee-owned — is perfectly suited to be fluid and flexible, to be able to adjust workloads to exactly where we need to be at any given moment.


Dan Pierce has had a hand in the construction of numerous commercial projects throughout the Southwest, and has been with Kitchell for more than 30 years, having joined the company right out of college. As President of Kitchell Contractors, Pierce oversees divisions, including everything from renewable energy and healthcare to custom homes and medical technology planning.

Pierce has a bachelor’s degree in construction from Arizona State University. He served on the Accreditation Review Board and the Department Advisory Council when the construction management program was established at Northern Arizona University. An ASHE-Certified Healthcare Builder, he is on the Board of Barrow Neurological Foundation, has served on the Board of the Foundation for Blind Children and is involved in the American Society for Healthcare Engineering.

For more information on Dan Pierce, President of Kitchell, visit Kitchell’s website at kitchell.com.

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

asu skysong collaborates with Taiwan's ITRI

ASU SkySong & ITRI, Taiwan’s Largest Research Organization To Collaborate

ASU SkySong hosted an important meeting where a Statement of Collaboration was signed by Arizona State University President Michael Crow and Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute’s (ITRI) Chairman Ching-Yen Tsay. The agreement begins a collaborative relationship between ASU Skysong and ITRI, whose research interests and work in the areas of renewable energy, bio design, health care, climate change and intelligent information and communication technologies align strategically with the research of ASU. The goal of ASU’s collaboration with ITRI is to increase shared knowledge by propelling research in their joint interest areas, thereby increasing the commercialization of technologies from each institution.

“ASU is excited by the chance to partner with ITRI to advance meaningful, leading edge research in multiple areas in which society needs rapid innovation,” said ASU President Crow. “This agreement creates new discovery and commercialization opportunities that build on the shared strengths of our respective knowledge enterprises, and represents a promising chapter in ASU’s ongoing commitment to global engagement.”

ITRI is a nonprofit research and development organization engaged in applied research and technical services. Founded in 1973, ITRI has played a vital role in transforming Taiwan’s economy from a labor-intensive industry to a high-tech industry. ITRI focuses on six areas, including information and communications; electronics and optoelectronics; material, chemical and nanotechnology; medical device and biomedical; mechanical and systems engineering, and green energy and environment. ITRI has aggressively researched and developed countless next-generation technologies, including WIMAX wireless broadband, solar cells, radio frequency identification, light electric vehicles, flexible displays, 3-D integrated circuits and tele-care technologies.

“With ASU and ITRI both agreeing on institution-to-institution collaboration,” said Chairman Tsay, “ITRI hopes that both parties will work together and leverage each other’s core competence and regional advantages to advance innovative research, entrepreneurship and commercialization. We enjoyed our visit to ASU, and hope that President Crow can visit ITRI and Taiwan in the near future to further build up the collaboration framework and initiate the first projects that were discussed on our recent visit.”

Iveda Solutions Inc., Mesa, Ariz., is an additional strategic partner for this collaboration, working with ASU SkySong and ITRI in the area of cloud computing and services. With a subsidiary in Taiwan (MEGAsys), Iveda has a working understanding of research in Arizona and in Taiwan. Iveda is heavily focused on developing innovations in cloud computing and real world applications for bringing cloud computing down to earth. The company develops and markets enterprise-class video hosting, real-time remote surveillance and global video positioning and mapping services.

“If we don’t continue to innovate for real-world applications, the buzz around cloud-based video surveillance technology will remain just that,” said David Ly, president and CEO of Iveda Solutions. “Our alliance with ASU and ITRI will inspire academic direction towards cloud-technology innovations to bring to market products and services that will have a positive impact in communities around the world. This collaboration will help turn technology possibilities into beneficial tools for making our communities safer, more secure and more efficient.”

For more information on ASU SkySongs and ITRI, visit ASU SkySong’s website at skysong.asu.edu and ITRI’s website at www.itri.org.tw/eng/index.aspx

geothermal plant

SRP Taking Power From New Geothermal Plant

Salt River Project is now receiving a significant amount of renewable energy from the just-completed Hudson Ranch I geothermal plant located in California’s Imperial Valley. Retired Vice Adm. Dennis V. McGinn, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, provided the keynote address during the dedication ceremony for the plant on Friday, May 18.

SRP executed a 30-year agreement in 2007 to purchase 49 megawatts of geothermal energy from Hudson Ranch I. The utility-scale plant, developed by EnergySource, is now providing enough energy to power about 26,000 average size Valley homes. The facility is located in one of the largest and highest-temperature geothermal resources in North America – the Salton Sea field in Imperial County.

Last year, SRP signed another agreement with EnergySource for the purchase of an additional 49 megawatts of geothermal from Hudson Ranch II. This second 30-year agreement calls for SRP to purchase power beginning in mid-2014, when the plant is expected to be completed. SRP will arrange transmission of the energy from the point of delivery to Arizona.

A geothermal power plant produces electricity from naturally occurring heat below Earth’s surface.  Geothermal energy is considered renewable energy because no fuel is consumed and the energy is from a naturally occurring source. Unlike other forms of renewable energy such as solar or wind, geothermal power plants produce energy continuously, irrespective of the time of the day or weather conditions.

Under SRP’s Sustainable Portfolio goals, SRP must meet 20 percent of its retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020. The goal increases each year until 2020 and, currently, SRP has exceeded its 5 percent goal while providing more than 9 percent of retail energy needs with sustainable resources such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy, hydro power, conservation and energy-efficiency measures.

Headquartered in El Centro, Calif., EnergySource is an independent developer, constructor, operator and owner of utility-scale geothermal power generation projects in southern California’s Salton Sea resource, selling wholesale base-load renewable power and environmental attributes to Western utilities subject to requirements to purchase energy from renewable resources.

SRP is the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix area, serving nearly 950,000 electric customers.

For more information on the Hudson Ranch Geothermal Power Plant, visit Landmark Geo-engineers and Geologist’s website at landmark-ca.com.

energy innovation aps

APS Recognized For Energy Innovation

Arizona Public Service Company ( APS ) has been recognized as one of the top 10 electric utilities in North America for energy innovation according to GreenTech Media and GTM Research, a leading source for clean energy news, analysis and trade events.

The award – titled “The Networked Grid: Top Ten Utility Smart Grid Deployments in North America” – was based on nominations from utilities and vendors and judged by GTM Research analysts.

“Technology is changing everything, including the electricity grid. Our challenge is to make sure APS is investing in technologies that provide value for our customers, make financial sense and are here for the long run. This award is an indication that we are on the right track,” said APS Director of Energy Innovation Barbara Lockwood.

Among its energy innovation projects, APS recently announced the testing of an energy storage system in Flagstaff, Arizona. The system is the size of a shipping container and can generate the equivalent power output of 1,200 hybrid cars. APS is testing several uses in an electrical distribution substation, where it may one day help to dispatch power temporarily during outages. Eventually, the system will support a solar power plant and help to get more renewable energy generation onto the grid.

Flagstaff is home to a number of APS energy innovation pilots including the Community Power Project, which is testing the effects of a high concentration of solar energy in a single distribution area. The study will enable APS to optimize the grid for a future where large percentages of customers in a neighborhood could have solar panels.

APS also is engaged in a self-healing/self-isolating grid pilot and a distribution fault anticipation pilot in Flagstaff. The latter two technologies help predict and manage system faults, resulting in reduced power outages and quicker repair times.

Later this year, a home energy information pilot will test customer benefits of in-home energy displays, programmable thermostats and residential demand response programs.

Earlier this year, APS energy innovation programs were ranked fourth nationally by Intelligent Utility magazine and IDC Energy Insights.

APS, Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electricity utility, serves more than 1.1 million customers in 11 of the state’s 15 counties. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp.

For more information on APS and their project in Flagstaff, visit APS’ website at aps.com.

solar

APS Ranked As One Of Nation’s Top Solar Companies

Arizona Public Service Company’s efforts to increase the adoption of renewable energy like solar continue to earn national recognition. APS was ranked third in the Annual Megawatts category and fourth in the Annual Watts Per Customer Category – both rankings the highest ever for the company – in the 2011 Utility Solar Rankings announced on April 17 by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).

With approximately 145 megawatts of solar energy added to its system in 2011, APS beat out more than 240 other utilities for the third place ranking.

“Last year was a banner year for renewable energy development at APS, we saw more customers install solar than in any prior year, and we brought 45 megawatts of APS-owned solar online through our AZ Sun Program,” said Pat Dinkel, APS Vice President of Power Marketing, Resource Planning and Acquisition. “Renewable energy is good for our customers because it allows APS to invest in building a long-term diverse portfolio that takes into account affordability, dependability and sustainability.”

APS’s current renewable portfolio contains more than 900 megawatts of renewable energy, including projects online or under development. When these resources are placed into service, they will provide enough clean, renewable electricity to power 225,000 Arizona homes.

“We congratulate APS for being a solar power leader in the electric utility sector,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA President and Chief Executive Officer. “APS successfully adapted its business models and operations to allow for a significant amount of solar energy to be integrated into the grid last year, delivering the many benefits of clean solar energy to its customers. The impressive gains solar energy made in the U.S. in 2011 can be largely attributed to APS’s leadership.”

The Top 10 solar utilities in the category of Annual Megawatts are:

1. Pacific Gas and Electric (CA)

2. Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (NJ)

3. Arizona Public Service (AZ)

4. Southern California Edison (CA)

5. Atlantic City Electric (NJ)

6. Jersey Central Power & Light (NJ)

7. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (CA)

8. Xcel Energy – CO (CO)

9. Long Island Power Authority (NY)

10. Xcel Energy – NM (NM)

Altogether, the Top 10 utilities reported adding more than 1,000 megawatts of solar electricity capacity in 2011. Overall, more than 240 utilities surveyed reported nearly 1,500 megawatts of new solar, equivalent to about six natural gas power plants.

The full Top 10 report containing additional details about the total solar capacity of U.S. utilities, rankings by regions, geographical diversity and other utility solar trends will be available in late May at SEPATop10.org.

SEPA is an educational non-profit dedicated to helping utilities integrate solar power into their energy portfolios. With more than 1,000 utility and solar industry members, SEPA provides unbiased utility solar market intelligence, up-to-date information about technologies and business models, and peer-to-peer interaction. From hosting national events to one-on-one counseling, SEPA helps utilities make smart solar decisions.

APS, Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electricity utility, serves more than 1.1 million customers in 11 of the state’s 15 counties. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp.

For more information on APS, visit APS’ website at aps.com.

state land department

State Land Department, APS Partner On First Solar Facility To Be Built On State Land

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.

Saint-Gobain Solar Mirrors

Saint-Gobain Opens Solar Mirror Manufacturing Plant in Goodyear

Saint-Gobain is opening its first North American solar mirror manufacturing plant in Goodyear, Ariz. The manufacturing plant will benefit both the Arizona environment as well as the economy — expecting to create approximately 50 new jobs.

Saint-Gobain’s manufacturing plant will offer the same quality solar mirror thermal products in North America as it does in Europe, while reducing the carbon footprint of transporting the product over long distances.

“Saint-Gobain Solar is a welcome addition to Greater Phoenix’s growing solar supply chain and further enhances our reputation as the nation’s hotspot for solar and renewable energy,” says Barry Broome, Greater Phoenix Economic Council president and CEO. “Investments from major international corporations like Saint-Gobain exemplify how the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program is creating quality jobs and building a sustainable economic platform for the region’s future.”

Saint Gobain Solar Mirror

According to Alain Garnier, director of Saint-Gobain Solar North America, local production of solar mirrors in Arizona accelerates the company’s plans for growth in the North American solar market.

“Goodyear offers great local access to the solar concentrator market in the southwest region of the U.S.; it is close to our customers,” Garnier says. “Goodyear also offers a good infrastructure, easy access to highways, and an educated workforce.

“In terms of benefits for Arizona, Saint-Gobain’s expansion to Goodyear means more jobs for Arizonans and helps solidify Arizona as the solar capital of the world.”

What’s unique about this solar mirror manufacturing plant is the testimony it will make about the products it creates. It is going to utilize Saint-Gobain solar mirrors in the building process to produce energy for the manufacturing process.

“We are proud to help lead the drive to save energy not only through responsible manufacturing practices, but also through the development of sustainable, energy-efficient building products and solutions for communities around the world,” Garnier says. “Leading by example, the company will be installing solar photovoltaic systems to offset the site’s energy needs.”

The plant’s projected production capacity corresponds to an annual thermal power output of 300MW, or the equivalent annual energy requirements for an American town of 150,000 inhabitants. It is estimated that each year it will save approximately 320,000 tons of carbon dioxide that would have been generated if using a coal fire method. This is the equivalent of replanting approximately 62,000 acres of forest.

“We are grateful to the state of Arizona, which has adopted a proactive policy to encourage companies from the solar sector to establish manufacturing plants,” adds Garnier. “The Arizona Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program helped to encourage us to select the state for our new plant. Following a tough selection process, we chose to set up our plant in the Phoenix area, in Goodyear, where we are pleased to have been very positively received.”

The facility will supply the domestic solar mirror market and will eventually produce millions of square feet of solar mirrors for thermal power station technologies including, but not limited to, concentration towers and linear Fresnel lenses.

The solar mirror plant is expected to launch in the last quarter of this year and will compliment Saint-Gobain’s current solar mirror production base, which includes a parabolic mirrors plant in Portugal and a flat mirrors facility in Germany.

For more information about Saint-Gobain’s solar mirror manufacturing plant, visit www.Saint-Gobain.com.

Solar Companies - AZRE Magazine March/April 2011

The Fight To Lure Solar Companies To The Valley Is Fierce

The fight to lure solar energy companies to Arizona will be fierce in 2011, as states become more competitive in their efforts to land solar companies that are themselves battling for funding in a stagnant capital market.

“(This year) will be more competitive than 2010 because the states are feeling more pressure and the idea that we’ll emerge out of this recession soon is just falling out of people’s heads,” says Barry Broome, president of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, a major player in the efforts to bring solar and renewable energy companies to the Valley.

At least 10 renewable energy companies have located or announced plans to locate in Arizona since the state Legislature passed a tax-incentive program in 2009, Broome says. The most notable players are Chinese giant Suntech Power Holdings Co., the leading solar manufacturer in the world, and Power-One, which makes solar and wind inverter products.

Their arrival not only burnishes Arizona’s reputation as a potential leader in the effort to harness renewable energy, but also creates a burgeoning supply chain for solar energy manufacturers.

For example, United Kingdom-based FAIST GreenTek plans to open its first U.S. plant, a 56,000 SF facility in Phoenix, to provide metal steel containers for Power-One’s inverter boxes. Additionally, Spanish glass manufacturer Rioglass located to Arizona to provide materials for Abengoa’s Solana plant near Gila Bend, which is expected to be the largest concentrating solar energy power plant in the world.

“The tentacles that are caused by these companies will grow long over time,” says Eran Mahrer, director of renewable energy for Arizona Public Service, which will purchase the electricity generated at the Gila Bend site.

GPEC currently is working to lure two solar companies to the Valley, Broome says, adding, “I’m not saying we won’t see 10 companies again, but it’s much tougher. The industry is maturing and the capital markets haven’t recovered.”

He believes the market will see a roll up, or a decline in smaller, newer companies and will settle on fewer, major players.

The impact of solar companies on the commercial real estate market is significant. Solar-related companies gave a shot in the arm to Arizona’s persistently high industrial vacancy rates, says Pete Wentis, an industrial broker with CB Richard Ellis.

The second quarter of 2010 saw positive absorption in the industrial sector for the first time in a year and a half, Wentis says. By 4Q 2010, the market saw 4.4 MSF of positive absorption, which lowered the industrial vacancy rate in Maricopa County from 16.1% to 14.7%. Wentis estimates that solar companies contributed between 15% to 20% to that absorption.

The 14.7% vacancy rate means there is 40 MSF of industrial space available.

It is difficult to say whether there is enough available inventory for solar-related companies, as they don’t all require the same type of industrial space, Wentis says, adding that industrial is the most diversified of all the tenant types of space.

Solar proponents agree that Arizona is just starting to establish itself as a leader in the solar industry, but more needs to be done.

“Are we doing a good job? Yes,” Broome says. “Are we doing a great job? No. Could we be doing better? Yes.”

Factors that helped draw solar companies here and drive the production of solar generation include state tax incentives, utility incentives to customers for rooftop photovoltaic systems, a federal grant program that has been extended for one more year, and state renewable energy standards that require utilities to generate 15% of their kilowatt-hours sold from renewable sources by 2025.

Finally, the total installed cost of photovoltaics has dropped 40% in three years due to several factors, including better production, innovation, and the emergence of China into the market, says Nancy LaPlaca, a policy advisor and spokesperson for Arizona Corporation Commission commissioner Paul Newman.

Stable and well-thought-out energy policies would help the industry, Broome says, adding that the state has taken a “herky jerky” approach to renewable energy. A federal energy standard also would bring stability to the market, he adds.

The state also should discuss ways to export green energy, LaPlaca says. Currently, Arizona exports 30% of its electricity to California, but that is “brown” energy derived from coal, natural gas and nuclear.

For more information about GPEC and its efforts to bring solar companies to the Valley, visit gpec.org.

AZRE Magazine March/April 2011

A Rioglass solar facility - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program Helps GPEC Bring In The Shining Stars Of Solar

It makes sense that a city with an average of more than 321 days of sunshine a year is taking the lead in solar, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of the energy source’s biggest crusader in Arizona: the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC).

“I think if you look at comprehensively the way that we approach the utilization of solar, this is top-down the best market to do solar manufacturing,” says Chris Camacho, executive vice president of business development at GPEC.

GPEC aggressively pushed for passage of Senate Bill 1403, the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program, that was signed into law in 2009. The incentives include a refundable tax credit and a property tax reduction.

Since January 2010, eight companies have made the commitment to come to the Phoenix Metro area, with many more anticipated for the future.

GPEC’s hard work has led to making connections around the globe and attracting a number of high-level renewable energy companies to the Valley. One of these companies is Suntech Power Holdings, the world’s largest manufacturer of photovoltaic modules.

“Arizona can be very proud that it has GPEC as an ambassador for the region to reach out to global companies,” says Wei Tai Kwok, vice president of marketing at China-based Suntech Power Holdings. “They’re pounding the pavement to get the message out there that they want to be the solar capital.”

It was thanks to this commitment that Suntech decided to make Goodyear the location for the company’s first U.S. manufacturing plant.

“(GPEC) helped us with the financial modeling, business plan and follow-up,” Kwok says. “They were very attentive and committed to our success … and they’re still at our side and supportive of our needs.”

He also listed other important attributes that factored into the decision, including the state’s skilled work force and Arizona’s serious commitment to solar energy.

GPEC’s Camacho says that type of confidence and emphasis helps the organization differentiate itself from similar groups.

“GPEC’s brand as a group can provide the highest level of services to companies in analyzing the Western U.S. for business locations,” he adds.

The companies that have worked with GPEC can attest to its capability in assisting with relocation efforts. Rioglass Solar, a company that produces reflector components for solar thermal power plants and is a subsidiary of Rioglass Solar Holdings in Spain, worked with GPEC to establish a manufacturing facility and U.S. headquarters in Surprise.

“It was very helpful for us to have an organization that could get us the support we needed,” says Greg Armstrong, chief operating officer of Rioglass Solar. “You need a site that is constructible, has infrastructure and has a quality work force.”

Armstrong adds that the company is highly confident that due to the support of the local community, the infrastructure and GPEC, coming to Arizona will meet Rioglass Solar’s objectives.

Of course, one of the biggest benefits the expansion of the solar industry in Arizona will have will be on job creation. The more activity there is in the region, the more high-quality jobs will be available. The Suntech plant already has created 80 jobs and is expecting to increase to about 150 people within three or four years. Rioglass Solar also anticipates more than 100 positions at its Surprise facility.

While there has been plenty to celebrate since the passing of the incentive program, there are still hurdles to overcome. The catalysts for future growth of the solar industry in Arizona certainly are in place, but the economic difficulties have had an effect.

“We have seen corporations be very conservative in how quickly they move on investment decisions,” Camacho says. “We still have another 150 renewable energy companies in our pipeline. As the economy continues to recover, credit becomes more available, we will welcome more and more companies.”

It’s safe to say that Arizona is moving ahead in the sustainability industry — most notably in the solar field — and thanks to GPEC’s support, there are no signs of this industry slowing down.

“I look at sustainability alongside health care as one of the two industries that is going to drive our economic future,” Camacho says. “Without groups like GPEC, a lot of this would not exist, and I’ll attribute that to having our team be at the forefront of understanding these technology applications, understanding what drives the location decisions of CEOs, and creating an environment that’s very supportive of the (solar) industry.”

AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Speaker: Mark Kranz ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Mark Kranz, SmithGroup

Mark Kranz, SmithGroup

Mark Kranz, AIA, LEED AP, is the design principal and lead designer for the Phoenix office of SmithGroup’s Higher Education and Science and Technology Studios.  Mark’s work has been published locally, regionally and nationally.

He speaks publicly about sustainable design strategies for laboratory and academic facilities, and his work is consistently recognized by the design and construction industries.  Kranz works regionally within the Western United States with research institutions and institutions of higher education creating laboratory and instructional facilities that elegantly reflect their specific context and function.

He has spent the past 11 years with SmithGroup, creating the vision for some of the most significant architectural contributions for some of the most prominent institutions and public entities in the Southwestern United States including Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, the City of Phoenix, the State of Utah, The City and County of Denver, and the Maricopa County Community College District.

He is currently behind the design visions for numerous landmark projects for clients including the National Renewable Energy Laboratories in Golden Colorado, The University of Hawaii at Hilo, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Honolulu, Hawaii, as well as Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Arizona.


Topic: Sustainable Strategies for Higher Educational Facilities: A case study of four sustainable educational facilities in four unique settings.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Room 155

BIG Green Conference 2011


 

BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th 2011
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 



Sponsors:

Bill Pepicello, chairman of GPEC and president of University of Phoenix - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Q&A Bill Pepicello, GPEC Chairman And University Of Phoenix President

What are your top goals as chairman of GPEC?
First, and foremost, my goal is to build on the momentum that Michael Bidwill, GPEC’s immediate past chairman, and Barry Broome, GPEC’s president and CEO, have driving the region toward new high-quality jobs. … I also want to expand on their vision and ideas to build a healthy economy. Many of the pieces of the puzzle are coming together now. Arizona’s Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program is driving hundreds of new jobs and millions in capital investment. In addition, many leaders are focused on moving Arizona’s economy beyond its former reliance on the construction, retail and real estate industries.

How would you characterize Greater Phoenix to companies looking to expand here?
Greater Phoenix is a strong investment decision for companies. We have ground-floor business opportunities for companies looking for the right place to expand their businesses. Renewable energy companies and bioscience companies do very well here. The semiconductor and aerospace industry are intertwined in Arizona’s history. Also, Greater Phoenix is an ideal location to launch a business and export products to California, which has a more expensive business environment. … We have highly skilled labor, an affordable operating environment and new available buildings.

Why is GPEC targeting the renewable energy industry?
The industry provides high-quality jobs for local communities, injects millions in capital investment, and draws other companies that serve as suppliers. … GPEC will continue to focus on renewable energy policy and the state’s aggressive Renewable Energy Standard that appeals to companies. Michael will continue to play a pivotal role in advancing the renewable energy industry, as Gov. Brewer has appointed him to lead the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Renewable Energy Growth Sector Committee.

What is GPEC doing this year to advance the region?
We are partnering with the Legislature to bring more high-quality jobs to Arizona, and we are working with lawmakers to modernize the state’s Enterprise Zone to draw more companies here. We are continuing with rebranding efforts to move Arizona’s national image beyond the immigration debates. I believe our efforts to continue diversifying the region’s economy will have a lasting impact for the region and Arizona. GPEC is working very hard to strengthen the economy. We have many tasks to accomplish this year but we are definitely up for the challenge.

AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011