Tucson Ariz.‘s utility, Tucson Electric Power (TEP), received the Environmental Stewardship Award for Southern Arizona from Valley Forward Association last weekend (Sept. 14). TEP received the award because of its continued investment in solar energy, particularly as it relates to the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park’s Solar Zone. This is the first time an organization outside of the Phoenix area has won the award and it’s also the first time an organization in southern Arizona has won.
Valley Forward received more than 110 applications this year for its highly sought award. Amongst the applicants were Pima County’s Sustainable Action Plan for County Operations and Tucson Clean & Beautiful’s Trees for Tucson program, both which were also sponsored by TEP.
TEP has more than 150 megawatts of solar power on its grid and by the end of next year, it plans to have more than 228 megawatts of solar power. Currently, that’s enough to meet the needs of more than 30,000 of its 408,000 customers—which equates to about 7 percent of its entire customer base. Overall, the company sourced more than 5 percent of its retail sales from renewables, earning the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA’s) Investor Owned Utility of the Year award in 2012 and potentially again in 2013.
TEP was primarily recognized for its participation in the University of Arizona's Solar Zone. The company has invested $22 million to build, own, and operate two of the solar power projects at the in-ground testing facility where new technologies are evaluated. In all, the Solar Zone has five different solar projects testing six different solar technologies. The facility has a combined capacity of 21 megawatts. “Through TEP’s renewable energy procurement process, more than $100 million will be invested in the Solar Zone,” a spokesperson for the utility said.
“We feel honored to be recognized, and we hope all residents of southern Arizona take pride in the Solar Zone. It’s a unique project that promotes the development of cost-effective solar energy while allowing us to evaluate multiple technologies in one location,” stated Carmine Tilghman, TEP’s Director of Wholesale & Renewable Energy. “We’re very proud of our partnership with the University of Arizona and we look forward to our continuing effort to support solar energy as a clean, renewable resource.”
“We congratulate TEP for their innovative leadership in renewable energy," added Bruce Wright, Associate Vice President for University Research Parks. "Tucson Electric Power is committed to and is actively engaged in the development of the Solar Zone. The UA Tech Park created the Solar Zone to accelerate the growth and development of the solar industry in Southern Arizona."
"The success achieved is only through collaboration with our partner TEP,” Wright concluded.