Future of solar in Arizona looks bright - East Valley Tribune: Living Green

Future of solar in Arizona looks bright

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Posted: Monday, September 13, 2010 12:58 pm

Many companies these days talk about being green and their commitment to the environment, but it takes more than a good marketing campaign to make a true investment in a greener future for tomorrow.

In the last several weeks, SRP has commissioned several photovoltaic systems for East Valley companies that have decided to take that extra step and invest in solar energy with help from the SRP's EarthWise Solar commercial program. These companies have shown their dedication to the environment by installing photovoltaic systems to offset their energy usage with energy from the sun. Each day as the sun rises and sets, a portion of the electricity they use is offset with green, renewable energy.

From large corporations with plants and stores in the Valley like IKEA in Tempe and Intel in Chandler to locally owned companies like PlasmaGlow in Gilbert and Kovach Inc. in Chandler; these companies may not have a lot in common in terms of the products they produce or sell, but they have all taken the initiative to invest in solar energy for their stores, warehouses and parking structures.

The largest commercial installation in SRP's service area will be on the 342,000-square-foot IKEA store in Tempe. The 46,000-square-foot configuration will consist of two 300-kilowatt systems, each built with approximately 1,300 panels. IKEA Tempe's solar program will produce approximately one million kilowatt hours of electricity annually for the store, offsetting 712 tons of carbon.

"We are very excited about furthering our sustainability commitment by installing solar panels on our store," said Robby Wierman, IKEA Tempe store manager. "This opportunity will reduce our carbon footprint, improve the environment, and contribute to our company's vision of creating a better everyday life for the many."

From Tempe, we travel to PlasmaGlow located in Gilbert where each day they design and manufacture energy efficient products using LED technology for automotive, home and commercial use. PlasmaGlow invested in a 29-kilowatt photovoltaic system on their roof and parking structures that will provide electricity for 100 percent of the company headquarters' energy usage, said PlasmaGlow President Eugene Overline.

"As a leader in energy efficient LED technology, we are always looking for ways to make ourselves a greener company. The SRP rebate was a significant contribution and made this project financially viable for us," Overline said.

Earlier this year, Chandler company Kovach Inc. flipped the switch for a system that produces up to 21 kilowatts each day the sun is shining. Kovach Inc. is a national metal and stone wall-cladding company that also specializes in metal roof systems.

And last but certainly not least are the new Intel installations, which will have the third-most photovoltaic capacity in SRP's service territory. These are the first of seven new contracted solar electric installations at Intel locations in four states that will generate up to 2.8 megawatts of clean solar energy.

The roof system, which was recently commissioned at the Chandler campus, is capable of generating approximately 10 percent of the building's peak demand. Intel Arizona recently began a new project at the Ocotillo campus, which will be solar support structures in the parking lot and will also provide shade to approximately 100 parking spaces. This is the first of what the company hopes to be several of this type of system, with potential pending expansions later this year.

All of these systems were made possible, in part, by incentives from the SRP EarthWise Solar Energy commercial program. From international corporations to small business owners, solar is becoming more and more of a viable option for customers who are interested in installing solar systems on their rooftops. Especially, as we hope to see prices decrease and technologies improve. SRP is proud to be a part of the bright future of solar in Arizona.

For more information, go to www.srpnet.com/solarbiz.

Lori Singleton is manager of sustainability initiatives and technologies for SRP.

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