AZ Community College Wins National Solar Award

Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:17pm EDT

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YUMA, Ariz., March 23, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The 5MW multi-technology solar installation at Arizona Western College (AWC) in Yuma, AZ was recognized with a national award this week by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) as one of the three most distinct photovoltaic projects of 2012. The announcement and ceremony took place at PV America's annual conference in San Jose, CA.

This unique 23-acre installation, which brings together five distinct PV technologies, is the first of its kind in the country to combine the priorities of workforce development, R & D, and utility scale energy generation.

More than 84 submissions were evaluated by an independent panel of judges representing associations, consultants, distributors, government, integrators, manufacturers and utilities. To qualify for the awards, all projects had to be operational and demonstrate a collective benefit to the community and innovative use of policy and financing to enhance the project's impact.

AWC is the host of this landmark installation that is comprised of five one-megawatt sites across the campus. The system will offset nearly 100% of the campus's daytime electricity needs. A subsidiary of Main Street Power will own and operate the system for the next 30 years. PPA Partners, Inc is the solar developer who brought the concept to the campus nearly four years ago. Cost savings to the college district are estimated at $62 million based on current electricity rates.

"Watching our campus be transformed by the construction of these five distinct solar arrays was an amazing experience for our students and staff. Having completed the project, we are optimistic about the benefits it will have, not only for our faculty and students, but as an economic catalyst for the entire region. We believe this solar installation can be a model for other institutions across the country, combining energy savings with workforce development and technology testing. This award will help us tell that story to a broader audience," stated Dr. Glenn Mayle, President of Arizona Western College.

In addition to solar installer training and certification classes, AWC is articulating two separate bachelor's degrees with renewable energy emphases with university partners (University of Arizona – Systems Engineering and Northern Arizona University – Bachelor's of Applied Science).

This diverse technology integration at utility scale is unique among institutional installations and offers both the college community and the solar industry a chance to monitor many aspects of the installation through historic and realtime online dashboards from AlsoEnergy that will be available later this spring.

Financing for the installation was made possible through financial incentives from the Arizona Public Service (APS) Renewable Energy Incentive Program, allowing AWC to defray nearly half the cost of the system.

This solar installation, which is the third largest solar installation on a community college campus, includes concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) systems with dual-axis trackers from SolFocus and GreenVolts, thin film panels from Sharp Solar, monocrystalline panels from SolarWorld, polycrystalline panels from Suntech, and single-axis trackers from SunEdison.

"There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of the solar industry. The recipients of these awards exemplify the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that drives growth in the U.S. market," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. "From community-based solar to schools and military facilities, these remarkable projects show that solar is working and Americans have more options than ever before to go solar. We are very pleased to present these awards and congratulate our three winners for their achievements and excellence in PV solar energy."

"It is very important that we continue to acknowledge new innovation in PV and the successful completion of solar projects now and in the future," said Julia Hamm, president and CEO of SEPA. "Our three winners demonstrate the viability and versatility of PV installations as well as the benefits they bring to their local communities. The Arizona Western College Solar Installation not only offsets 100 percent of the campus' daytime electricity needs but brings together five different solar technologies.   At the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ-9) Complex, PV models were creatively mounted in usable areas, creating dual-purpose structures. Through the Clean Energy Collective and Holy Cross Energy partnership, the Clean Energy Collective Community-Owned Solar Farm makes PV solar energy accessible to everyone on the grid by giving citizens the opportunity to own individual panels." 

The other two projects recognized were: Clean Energy Collective Community-Owned Solar Farm, Holy Cross Energy, Garfield County Airport, Rifle, Colo.; and the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ-9) Complex at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC), Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Press Contacts

Lori Stofft

Director, Public Relations and Marketing

Arizona Western College


928-246-4834 (cell)

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