Trico gets a grant for solar electricity array - Tucson Local Media: El Sol

Trico gets a grant for solar electricity array

Members can 'buy' portions of power

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Posted: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 11:00 pm

Explorer staff reports

An electric cooperative with its headquarters in the Northwest has been granted $933,4568 to help build a solar photovoltaic array.

Trico Electric Cooperative in Marana is building a 210-kilowatt array at its Tangerine Road headquarters. This system will support Trico's SunWatts Program, designed for members who wish to invest in renewable energy, but are unable due to space issues or economic barriers, a release said.

Construction of the solar farm – officially called Trico's Community Supported Solar Demonstration Project – begins this fall.

"This is a very exciting time for Trico," said Vincent Nitido, Trico's CEO and general manager. "This project demonstrates Trico's commitment to renewable resources and gives our customers another opportunity to invest in renewable energy."

Under a plan Trico is submitting to the Arizona Corporation Commission for approval, Trico customers can purchase portions of solar panels in quarter, half and full-panel increments. They'll receive a credit on their bill reflecting the energy generated by the panels.

"People whose homes aren't sited properly for solar, people who rent or people that don't have the funds to buy a whole system for their home — this program was designed with them in mind," Nitido said. "They will be able to directly invest and benefit from renewable energy technologies on a scale that fits their needs." The panels are projected to be in service by 2011.

As a non-profit electric cooperative, Trico isn't eligible to receive state or federal tax incentives to offset the cost of renewable generation. Without these grant funds, a Trico-owned solar farm project "wouldn't be possible," the cooperative said in a release.

SunWatts has more than 200 participants who have installed photovoltaic systems for their homes and businesses. More than 70 Trico customers have installed solar water heaters through the SunWatts program.

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