Special to The Explorer

Tucson Electric Power has agreed to purchase energy from a new biogas generator that would be built at Pima County's Tangerine Landfill in Marana.

The project would produce up to 2.2 megawatts of electricity from methane gas, a renewable fuel created through the decomposition of garbage.

TEP, with more than 400,000 customers, has also agreed to purchase the output of 10 new solar power systems and a new wind farm. In sum, the projects would generate nearly 160 megawatts of electricity, enough renewable energy to power more than 30,000 Tucson homes, the release said.

TEP has submitted its purchase agreements to the Arizona Corporation Commission for its review. Commission endorsement would allow system developers to proceed with efforts to finalize financing, secure land rights and clear other hurdles to complete their projects and begin providing power in 2011 or 2012.

"These agreements are the next step in our development of local utility-scale renewable power projects that will help us achieve our renewable energy goals," said Paul Bonavia, chairman, president and CEO of TEP and its parent company, UniSource Energy Corporation. "We're looking forward to including these resources in TEP's growing green power portfolio."

"All of the projects announced today are in the planning stages, and some of them may not be built if the developers are unable to arrange financing or clear other necessary hurdles," TEP said in its release. "But the capacity ultimately developed will represent a significant addition to TEP's growing renewable energy resources."

TEP has agreed to buy power from two new solar systems planned to be built in the Tucson area by January 2012, including the 25-megawatt Fotowatio Renewable Ventures array to be built near Marana.

Before those systems come online, TEP will add 1.8 megawatts of capacity this year to its 4.6-megawatt Springerville Generating Station Solar System, which already is one of the largest grid-tied photovoltaic arrays in the U.S. The expanded array will generate enough energy to power more than 1,000 Tucson homes.

TEP also will build a 1.6-megawatt solar array in the Tucson area later this year that could be used to support the company's proposed Bright Tucson Community Solar program. The program, which is awaiting regulatory review, would allow customers to buy 150 kilowatt-hour (kWh) "blocks" of solar energy produced by Tucson-area solar arrays.

With funding provided by customers, TEP has developed nearly 10 MW of company-owned renewable energy generating capacity along with more than 6 MW of customer-sited systems subsidized by the company's SunShare rebates.

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