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Posted Mar 28, 2011, 6:31 pm
The future of solar power is looking up in Tucson—up to the rooftops of large public buildings.
Tucson Electric Power will lease space on the roofs of schools and other buildings to build solar power arrays, company officials said.
Through its Bright Roofs program, the utility plans to develop 11 megawatts of electrical generating capacity over the next three years.
Bright Roofs will feed solar energy directly into TEP’s local distribution grid, generating enough power to serve more than 1,800 Tucson homes, the company said in a press release.
"Our new TEP Bright Roofs program offers schools and other public agencies an opportunity to put their unused rooftop space to good use, generating both clean energy for our community and lease payments that can help support education and other public services,” said Paul Bonavia, CEO of TEP and its parent company, UniSource Energy.
Buildings must have at least 50,000 square feet of flat rooftop space for a Bright Roofs installation.
A high school with 200,000 square feet of roof space could host a 1 megawatt system that generates enough power to serve about 170 homes, TEP said.
The solar arrays can be installed without penetrating the roof, the company said.
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While they will generate less power than tracking arrays and other advanced solar technologies, the flat arrays to be used offer advantages, said Dave Hutchens, executive vice president of TEP and UniSource Energy.
“This new program gives us an opportunity to develop new, clean energy resources in fully developed areas of our distribution grid,” said Hutchens. “TEP Bright Roofs will help us satisfy growing energy needs without consuming land or creating new emission sources.”
TEP customers can support solar energy by purchasing 50 kilowatt-hour blocks of electricity for $3 monthly, the utility said. Customers are currently subscribed to more than 1,100 blocks.
Bright Roofs will be part of more than 125 megawatts of new solar generating capacity that TEP and its partners are developing in the Tucson area over the next three years.
The output of those systems will help TEP satisfy Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard, which calls for utilities to increase their use of renewable energy each year until it represents 15 percent of their power in 2025.