University of Arizona partners with Tucson Electric Power on 100 percent clean energy project

Published on August 26, 2019 by Kevin Randolph

© University of Arizona

The University of Arizona (UA) recently partnered with Tucson Electric Power (TEP) to provide its campus with enough power from new solar, storage and wind systems to meet 100 percent of its purchased power needs.

“We made a commitment to become a more sustainable campus, and now we have in place a system that will make a significant impact in just two years,” University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins said. “I believe it is up to higher education institutions to lead the way on clean energy solutions. This university is already a leader in environmental and sustainability research, and we found a partner in TEP that shares our commitment to make effectual change. We have a forward-looking team to make these changes a rapid reality.”

The agreement is subject to approval by the Arizona Corporation Commission. If the plan is approved, the University of Arizona will be the largest research university in the country with a plan in place to offset all of its scope two emissions. Scope two emissions include greenhouse gases resulting from the generation of electricity, heat or steam purchased from a utility provider.

“We’re proud to support the ambitious renewable energy goals of President Robbins and the University of Arizona, which are consistent with our own aspirations,” TEP President and CEO David G. Hutchens said. “We’re working together with our customers to build a sustainable energy future for our community.”

Under the 20-year agreement, TEP will dedicate portions of two new renewable energy projects to meeting the energy needs of the University of Arizona, including a wind farm in New Mexico and a solar-plus-storage system southeast of Tucson.

The Wilmot Energy Center will include a 100-megawatt (MW) solar array and a 30-MW energy storage system. Construction is scheduled to begin in January, and the system is expected to be in operation by December 2020.

The 247 MW Oso Grande Wind Project will include 61 turbines installed on 24,000 acres southeast of Roswell, New Mexico. TEP anticipates that construction will begin later this year and that the system will enter service by the end of 2020.

“We have been researching a way to implement 100-percent green energy, and this deal gets us there in one fell swoop,” UA Assistant Vice President of Facilities Management Chris Kopach said. “This project provides capacity for consistent and reliable power with capacity for decades of growth in Tucson and on campus; the kind of capacity needed by a Research I university.”