Northwest YMCA

Deputy County Administrator John Bernal; Solon General Manager Bill Richardson; Dane Woll, President/CEO at YMCA of Southern Arizona; Bill Ward from Pima Community College; and Steve Gonzales from the Northwest YMCA Board break ground for the new solar project at the Northwest Y, 7770 N. Shannon Road. The shade structure will cover about 200 parking spots and provide 84 percent of the electricity for the Y. (Hillary Davis)

Courtesy Photo

A new solar panel-topped shade structure in the parking lot of the Northwest YMCA will generate most of the electricity for the center while shaving $1 million off its utility bills.

The array, which will cover about 200 parking spaces, will generate 84 percent of the electricity needed for the Northwest YMCA Pima County Community Center, a multi-use facility at 7770 N. Shannon Road. 

Officials from Pima County, Pima Community College, Solon Corporation and the YMCA broke ground for the array on May 15.

Dane Woll, President and CEO of the YMCA of Southern Arizona, said the project has been two years in the making and will take four months to complete.

“I guess quality does take a little time sometimes,” said John Bernal, Deputy Pima County administrator. “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

Bernal said the installation will save 2 million gallons of water a year and also avoid the annual release of 2 million pounds of greenhouse gasses.

By fixing the cost of the electricity produced by the array, the Northwest YMCA will also save more than $1 million over the 25-year lifetime of the project.

Pima County owns and the YMCA leases the land and facility, on Shannon off West Magee Road. The nearby PCC Northwest Campus uses space at the Y for dance and fitness classes. 

Thanks to a partnership with Solon, an international provider of utility-scale and large commercial photovoltaic solar energy with U.S. operations based in Tucson, the project comes at no cost to the county, college or YMCA.

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