The University of Arizona (UA) has initiated a 100% clean energy initiative with local utility Tucson Electric Power (TEP).
Under a new agreement, TEP will dedicate portions of new wind and solar/storage projects to serve the energy needs of UA, including a wind farm in New Mexico and a solar-plus-storage system southeast of Tucson, Ariz.
The Oso Grande Wind Project will generate up to 247 MW for the university and other TEP customers. The project will include 61 turbines installed on 24,000 acres southeast of Roswell. TEP expects construction to begin later this year and operations by the end of 2020.
The Wilmot Energy Center will include a 100 MW solar array and 30 MW energy storage system. The project will include approximately 314,000 solar panels on 1,130 acres. Construction is planned to begin in January, and the system is expected to be online by December 2020.
The agreement, which is pending approval by the Arizona Corporation Commission, will provide the university with access to energy from these two systems for 20 years. Moreover, it will meet all of the purchased power needs of UA’s campus.
“We made a commitment to become a more sustainable campus, and now we have in place a system that will make a significant impact in just two years,” comments Robert C. Robbins, president of UA. “I believe it is up to higher education institutions to lead the way on clean energy solutions. This university is already a leader in environmental and sustainability research, and we found a partner in TEP that shares our commitment to make effectual change. We have a forward-looking team to make these changes a rapid reality.”
UA is part of the University Climate Change Coalition, which is committed to reducing emissions and improving research on climate change policy across 20 member universities in North America.
The university and TEP have a history of working together to expand educational opportunities and promote renewable energy. For example, The Solar Zone at Tech Parks Arizona – a multi-technology solar demo site – is a joint venture of TEP, the university and solar developers. TEP also collaborates with scientists in the University of Arizona Institute for Energy Solutions to test solar panels, experiment with different technologies and develop techniques to test batteries for storing energy.
TEP expects to provide more than 28% of its power from renewable resources in 2021, nearly doubling the 2025 goal for the State of Arizona.