Tanque Verde Unified School District has switched on a multicampus solar energy system built by Tucson-based Solon Corp. that is expected to offset much of the district's daytime electricity needs.
Solon and district officials marked completion of the system Thursday with a dedication ceremony at Tanque Verde High School, at 4201 N. Melpomene Way.
The overall system, rated at a total output of 1.15 megawatts (DC), is made up of photovoltaic arrays at Tanque Verde High School, Tanque Verde Elementary School, Agua Caliente Elementary School and Emily Gray Junior High School.
Solon designed, built and commissioned all four systems and will continue to operate and maintain them. The cost of the systems was not disclosed.
The solar systems were built under an agreement between the northeast-side school district and San Francisco-based MP2 Capital, a major investor in renewable-energy projects. MP2 Capital will sell all of the power generated from the systems to the school district under the 25-year agreement, Solon said.
Tucson Electric Power Co. will get credit for the environmental benefits generated by the system by buying so-called renewable energy credits (RECs) based on the system's output. The credits count toward TEP's state-mandated renewable energy goals and help reduce the overall cost of the system.
Ratepayers and taxpayers help subsidize such projects, through monthly bill surcharges that pay for project incentives in TEP territory and through a 30 percent federal tax credit available to system owners or investors.
Under the deal, the district was not required to make any upfront investment or incur any ongoing expenses, Solon and the district said.
According to a contract approved by the school district's Governing Board, the district will pay 6.1 cents per kilowatt-hour for power from the solar system, compared with TEP's rate of about 12 cents per kWh.
The total output of the system for the first year is estimated at more than 2 million kilowatt-hours, or enough energy to power 190-plus homes.
"Not only are we delighted that this project required no upfront investment from our already strained school budgets, we anticipate these installations will deliver more than 70 percent of our energy across these four campuses," Tanque Verde Unified Superintendent Douglas Price said in a news release.
Solon is also providing an education package to the school district, including classroom monitoring of the systems' outputs; access to the performance and weather data; and a renewable-energy curriculum for elementary, middle and high school levels, designed by TEP to meet Arizona state curriculum standards.
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