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Tucson firm to build 18-MW solar plant in Gila Bend

Tucson-based Solon Corp. will build an 18-megawatt solar plant near Gila Bend for Arizona Public Service Co., the companies announced Thursday.

The photovoltaic plant will cover 145 acres and is scheduled to be completed in 2011. It will be based on Solon's Velocity MW Solar System, a modular array system.

Solon, a subsidiary of a German company, will manufacture the 75,000 panels for the project at its Tucson facility.

The plant will be owned by APS and be situated in Gila Bend's new Solar Overlay Zone, which allows for fast-track permitting of solar projects.

The "landmark project... showcases our truly comprehensive offering that will bring clean, renewable energy throughout the state," said Dan Alcombright, Solon's regional vice president, in a press release.

The solar panels needed to transform sunlight into electricity will be arranged in 1,566 rows connected to 108 single-axis trackers.

This design enables the solar panels to follow the sun across the sky, making the plant more efficient than static-mounted panels typically seen on rooftops.

On sunny days, APS says the project is expected to produce enough energy to meet the needs of 4,500 residential customers.

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"This project enables APS to continue building its renewable energy portfolio and helps us develop Arizona's vast solar resources," said the company's president, Don Robinson, in a news release.

The plant will be connected to the electric grid at the Cotton Center Substation, located less than a mile from the solar project.

Solon has owned part of Tucson-based Global Solar Energy Inc. since 2006.

APS is also developing the 280-megawatt Solana Generating Station near Gila Bend.

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