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TEP to add solar booster to Irvington electric plant

Tucson Electric Power is adding a 5-megawatt solar energy system to boost capacity at the utility's Tucson generating plant, the company announced Tuesday.

The Sundt Solar Boost Project will produce enough electricity to power 600 homes at times of peak demand, TEP spokesman Joe Salkowski said.

Construction of the $8.5 million project, based on compact linear fresnel reflector (CLFR) technology from French solar manufacturer Areva, should be completed by early 2013, he said.

About 50 jobs will be created during construction. Existing TEP employees at H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station on East Irvington Road, which is primarily powered by natural gas, will operate the facility, Salkowski said.

"Producing that same amount of power at the dual-fueled unit would otherwise require burning 46 million cubic feet of natural gas, or 3,600 tons of coal," he said.

The solar plant will help TEP meet a state mandate that electric utilities create 15 percent of their power with renewable energy by 2025.

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