A groundbreaking ceremony at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz., was held on Friday, April 25. According to Tucson Electric Power, the array is expected to come online later this year. At 18MW, it will provide enough power to satisfy one-quarter of the base's energy needs and is equivalent to the annual electric needs of approximately 3,100 homes.
Under the terms of the partnership, Tucson Electric Power will own and operate the array, providing Fort Huachuca with grid reliability and a streamlined development process. The utility has contracted with E.ON Climate & Renewables, a partner on other successful solar projects, for the system's construction.
"We're very proud to provide Fort Huachuca with a cost-effective solar power resource that will contribute to the base's long-term energy security," said David Hutchens, president and chief operating officer of Tucson Electric Power and its parent company, UNS Energy Corporation. "This new, productive partnership will benefit our customers while helping both the base and TEP make significant progress toward our respective renewable energy goals."
The Fort Huachuca system will be larger than any existing solar array on any U.S. Department of Defense base in the world, according to Tucson Electric Power, Once in operation, it will serve as the largest single solar resource owned by the utility. The system will offset more than 58,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year while reducing other emissions associated with generating an equivalent amount of power with fossil fuels.
The system at Fort Huachuca will be connected to an existing substation through a single interconnection on Tucson Electric Power's side of the meter. Any excess energy the system generates will flow back into the grid for use by other customers who rely on the utility. Combined with energy storage and other future enhancements, the system will be capable of providing the base with unique energy security benefits that would not be available through a third-party system.
"By working creatively with the fort's leadership and the Army's Energy Initiatives Task Force, we were able to develop a solution that serves our customer's energy needs while establishing a model that supports the Army's mission to expand its renewable resources," Philip J. Dion, senior vice president of public policy and customer solutions, explained.