Solar panel installation

October 26, 2015

AZ Big Media

Tempe advances plan to increase renewable energy

Mayor Mark Mitchell and the Tempe City Council motioned to approve a 20-year agreement with SolarCity that will put Tempe on the map as an energy efficient city.

“I so move to approve this,” said Councilwoman Lauren Kuby, sporting a big smile.

Mitchell and the council hope the approval will advance the city’s plan to provide 20 percent of energy through renewable sources by 2025. The meeting on Thursday at Tempe City Hall furthered the progress of the council’s goal.

“We just recently installed solar panels on the fire and courts building and we are just now breaking ground on the Library Complex Solar Project which will provide about 35 percent of energy to the complex,” said public information officer Melissa Quillard.

The council’s approval will guarantee a transfer of funds from the Capital Improvement Program, which encompasses the Tempe Pubic Library Solar Project and Landscape improvements, to the Kiwanis Recreation Center Solar Project. The approved transfer of $152,288 will fund the prepayment agreement for the center.

“This is going to help us advance the solar energy goal. It’s wonderful,” Quillard said.

The city will build solar canopies over the recreation parking structure. These canopies will not be typical structures, but rather they will be solar panels that will function as a device to acquire renewable energy.

“Tempe is known for being a progressive city, especially when it comes to sustainability, so we are committed to reaching our goal,” Quillard said.

After conducting research on potential solar locations, the council selected the Kiwanis Recreation Center, the East Valley Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility, and the Tempe Center for the Arts to advance the city’s renewable energy goal.

“The council looks at the fiscal impacts to the residents,” Quillard said. “Solar energy helps us to save money and it also benefits the environment by reducing carbon admissions and making the environment cleaner.”

In effort to advance the city’s renewable energy goal, the library has taken steps to create new sources to acquire energy. Currently, the parking structure is shaded with five solar canopies as well as having 486 solar panels cover the top of the complex. These efforts will save the city $95,000 in energy utility costs over the next 20 years.

“We have ASU right here and they’re always doing things to help the environment,” said Quillard.

Arizona State University has placed six wind turbines on the top of the Global Institute of Sustainability building in order to create sources of renewable energy. The university also provides a laboratory to research new methods to acquire renewable energy.

The total cost required to build the recreation center is $1,202,809. This amount, combined with the East Valley Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility will total $3,182,764. However, the recreation center is projected to save $56,400 in energy over the 20-year period.

“Solar energy does not release fossil fuels into the enviornment and I would be proud to come from a state where renewable energy is supported,” said audience member Darion Leahy. 

The council also approved an agreement to begin construction on the Johnny G. Martinez Water Treatment Plant, which will be amongst the next round of buildings to be converted for renewable energy. The plant is estimated to save $448,004 in energy over the next 20 years.

“Solar makes sense in Arizona. We have so much sun,” said Quillard.