Tag Archives: solar energy projects

Solar Energy Arizona Western College,

Solar Energy Builds on Arizona Western College Campus

The current economic situation has spurred a lot of talk, advertisements and encouragement to buy local and use local to sustain our economy. The Guinness Book of World Records named Yuma, AZ the sunniest city on earth, so where better to utilize innovative solar energy technology on Yuma’s Arizona Western College campus?

The Project

The Arizona Western College in Yuma is in the process of installing solar panels to cover close to 100 percent of its daytime electricity needs and cut its costs, all of which are planned to happen by October 2011. However, this project is doing more than just generating solar energy; it is utilizing five new types of photovoltaic technology from six different companies.

Arizona Western College plans to use the solar panels to teach classes on solar technology, installation and environmental engineering. This three-year solar project, from vision to completion, was partially funded by APS and will be managed by Main Street Power for 30 years and after the contract expires, the equipment will become part of the college and continue producing energy, says Lori Stofft, the director of public relations and marketing at Arizona Western College.

It is unique to apply five different technologies to a single institution, but that is one of the projects innovative angles.

The five photovoltaic technologies and the companies behind them include:

(c)2011 Arizona Western College by Ernest Yates

1. CPV (concentrator photovoltaic) from SolFocus, including their dual-axis trackers and GreenVolts fully integrated system including two-axis trackers and inverter
2. Thin Film panels from Sharp Solar
3. Monocrystalline panels from Solar World
4. Poly Crystalline panels from Suntech
5. Single-axis trackers from O Solar

Another unique aspect of this project is that the building process is streamed live over the internet to allow the community and the solar technology companies to check in on the progress.

“A lot of our partners are in Northern California, Germany, Spain… we wanted those people to feel like they were connected to our campus and that they could check in seven days a week and find out what was going on,” Stofft says. “It’s a way to include our partners in the building process.

The ground breaking was in May 2011 and the “Flip the Switch” completion ceremony is slated for October 2011. Only six months were allotted to cover 23 acres of land with solar arrays. The tight deadline was set in order to meet APS’s guidelines for the funding.

The Educational Advantage

It would make more sense to use one solar technology instead of five if it was just about energy generation, but it’s not, Stofft says. It’s about allowing the companies to measure their technologies against one another in one of the harshest climates on earth. Another educational aspect of the project will be the incubation area and the demonstration garden.

“The demonstration garden will have nine different technologies that students and the public will have access to,” Stofft  says. “They can see how [the technologies] measure against each other and what measures against the five major arrays.”

The incubation area is based on rental, and for a fee, technology companies can rent a private and secure area for a small array where they can test their equipment against the solar arrays already in place. The estimated savings for Arizona Western College with the solar array in place will be $3.5 million in the first 10 years, $15.4 million in 20 years and a projected $40 million over 30 years, including incubation rental fees.

“It’s more than just saving our tax payers money; it can be a road map for other colleges around the country who want to educate their own students,” Stofft  says. “There are all sorts of certificate and training programs and we could be educating people who work in solar industry at all levels.”

Arizona Western College graduated their first solar installer class of 19 in spring 2011 and are in the process of embedding solar technology into new and existing programs, developing 2-year degrees that can be transferred to four-year institutions.

(c)2011 Arizona Western College by Ernest Yates

It seems as though everyone wins.

Arizona Western College saves money; the solar companies get to test and monitor their technology in a large scale setting; the students reap the benefits, and the community creates jobs. The only thing left is getting a White House representative, or the president himself to the “Flip the Switch” ceremony.

A Presidential Approval

“The goal is to attract national attention to the array,” Stofft  says. “I really feel this is about energy independence for our country.”

Arizona Western College sent a formal invitation to the White house, but there has been no response yet. They are keeping their fingers crossed, and if the White House plans to respond, it still has time.

“The students, faculty and community are so proud that this solar array is being installed,” Stofft  says. “And if we can get the White House to visit, that will just be the cherry on top.”

For more information about Arizona Western College’s solar panels and its progress, visit www.azwestern.edu.

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Videos

Watch: AWC Solar Array Presidential Invite

Watch: AWC Solar Array Groundbreaking May 2011

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Cash In On Solar Stimulus Funds - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Time Is Running Out To Cash In On Solar Stimulus Funds

Companies and investors across Arizona are deciding whether it’s time to “go solar.” As with any other financial undertaking, moving forward with solar must make economic sense. Despite dramatic strides in technology, solar energy projects are not yet viable without government incentives. Those hoping to maximize incentives for solar should note that a particularly useful one — Treasury grants in lieu of energy credits — will expire soon.

The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka the stimulus bill) contained two key provisions for solar:
Solar now qualifies for a federal energy tax credit of 30 percent of cost. The credit applies when equipment is placed in service, allowing faster recovery than the renewable electricity production tax credit. Unfortunately, credit in excess of tax liability is carried forward to the next tax year, for up to 20 years.

But taxpayers may elect a Treasury grant in lieu of the energy credit. Grants are paid in as little as 60 days after equipment is placed in service or under construction. Treasury grants thus allow recovery of 30 percent of the cost of solar equipment, regardless of current income tax liability. More than $3 billion has been set aside for the grant in lieu of energy credit program.

However, the grant has an expiring provision; to qualify, construction must begin by Dec. 31, 2010. Physical work of a significant nature is required. Site selection, planning, design, site clearing, and even excavation to change the contours of the land do not count as beginning construction.
Although Dec. 31 is fast approaching, with proper guidance and execution, there is still time to act. Planning is crucial. Overlooking certain regulatory and permitting requirements early on, for example, could push your project groundbreaking into 2011.

Steps for developing a successful solar plan:

  • Whether choosing more common photovoltaic (PV) rooftop panels or a larger thermal system, visit other companies with solar power systems already in place. Most states have associations dedicated to renewable energy that can direct you to these companies.
  • If a solar system appears feasible, assemble a team of experts to handle environmental, regulatory, tax, real estate, energy procurement and financial matters.
  • Determine your regulatory requirements and financial incentives. A good resource is www.dsireusa.org.
  • Hire a contractor to conduct an energy audit to establish a baseline for the energy needs that must be met.
  • Companies usually partner with a “solar energy provider” that installs, owns and operates the system. The provider sells lower-cost electricity to the company under a long-term contract, while generating valuable renewable energy credits that can be sold to your electric utility, further reducing electricity costs. State associations can provide listings of providers.
  • From a list of pre-selected providers, request information regarding their abilities, such as technology, installation time frames, references and financial information. Choose the best finalists. Then issue an RFP specifying the amount of energy needed, the desired length and key terms of a power purchase agreement (PPA), project size, and the warranty you expect.
  • Once a provider is selected, the land or roof lease and PPA need to be negotiated. A 20-year fixed-rate PPA is common. Companies also should meet with their electric utility to determine the grid interconnection and meter requirements, and the amount of renewable energy credits to be received.

How To Solar Stimulus Steps:

  • Do your homework.
  • Assemble a team of experts.
  • Determine regulatory requirements and financial incentives.
  • Hire a contractor to conduct an energy audit.
  • Partner with a solar energy provider.
  • Issue an RFP.
  • Negotiate a power purchase
  • agreement (PPA).


Mark Vilaboy also contributed to this article.  He practices tax law in the Phoenix office of Quarles & Brady. For more information, visit www.quarles.com.

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

solar_prop

$467 Million For Geothermal And Solar Energy Projects

Sustainability is an ongoing movement that requires commitment from all — from politicians to regular citizens and everyone in between. In my ongoing quest of educating myself about news and events going on in the world of “green” I came across this release from the U.S. Department of Energy.

During the 2008 presidential campaign President Obama spoke of an amibitious energy plan and the first steps have been made to make the plan a reality.

President Obama announced that “…over $467 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to expand and accelerate the development, deployment, and use of geothermal and solar energy throughout the United States.”

The fact that this much money has been set aside in the name of creating a sustainable future for the United States is a huge step forward. President Obama went on to say that “We have a choice. We can remain the world’s leading importer of oil, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of clean energy.”

Recognizing that the path we’ve been on must be altered is just the beginning. By investing money to discover alternative energy sources, technology, etc., we have made the first step on this long journey.

The funds are going toward several types of green technology: $350 million is being set aside for geothermal energy, a source of renewable energy that uses heat from the Earth for electricity generation and heating applications.

An additional $117.6 million will go toward solar energy technologies. The goal of the various partnerships and developments is to continue to lead our country to a greener future.

It’s encouraging to know that although we are all facing difficult economic times right now, the government recognizes that making this investment is for the greater good of not only the U.S. but the world.

Source:
U.S. Department of Energy