October 30, 2002 — Once the capital city of Arizona, Prescott is poised to earn a new distinction: home to one of the largest solar generating facilities in the world.
APS this morning dedicated the first phase of the Prescott Airport Solar Power Plant. Upon its opening, this plant will distribute 450 kilowatts (kW) of solar-generated electricity onto the APS system. By March of 2003, Phase 1 will be complete with 1.5 megawatts (1,500 kW) available to APS customers. Within the next three to five years, APS plans to expand the facility’s capacity to 5 megawatts, providing enough power for more than 2,000 homes.
“Arizona, home of the Grand Canyon, will host a new landmark – the largest photovoltaic generating station in the world – once the Prescott project is complete,” said Glenn Hamer, executive director of the Washington-based Solar Energy Industries Association. “I salute APS for making such a commitment to developing solar energy. It is a model for others to follow.”
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the largest existing photovoltaic solar power plant is a 3.3-megawatt facility in Italy. Other such facilities may come on line before the scheduled completion of the Prescott Airport facility, but Hamer said he is not aware of any planned with this scope.
The plant will occupy about 50 acres near the Prescott Municipal Airport. The Prescott site was selected based on its higher elevation, clear skies and cool temperatures, which allow the photovoltaic panels to operate more efficiently. Prescott is located about 100 miles north of Phoenix.
Construction of the plant began in July. It features photovoltaic technology that tracks the sun’s movement for maximum efficiency. In addition to this project, APS has constructed solar facilities in Flagstaff, Tempe, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Yuma, Glendale and at Prescott’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. APS plans to have 3 megawatts (3,000 kilowatts) of solar capacity installed by the end of 2003.
The dedication of the Prescott Airport site comes at the end of “Solar Energy Month,” as proclaimed by Arizona Gov. Jane Dee Hull.
“The sun is Arizona’s most abundant natural resource, and we need to find new ways to harness its energy,” Hull said. “I applaud APS for being among the leaders in this effort and I urge the industry to continue exploring opportunities to realize solar energy’s full potential. The Prescott Airport Solar Power Plant will help put Arizona at the forefront of solar technology.”
Electricity generated by the plant will feed directly into the electrical grid system that serves APS customers. It is financed in part by APS and participating customers who, as APS Solar Partners, pay $2.64 per month to have 15 kW hours of their electricity needs generated by solar power. There are about 3,000 Solar Partners in Arizona.
APS, Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electricity utility, serves more than 874,000 customers in 11 of the state’s 15 counties. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the largest subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (NYSE: PNW).