The Sun Devils will become sun harvesters after embarking on the largest-scale solar energy project of any university in the nation.
Officials contracted three energy companies — Honeywell Building Systems, Independent Energy Group and SolEquity — to install solar electric equipment capable of satisfying 7 percent of the Tempe campus’ energy needs by the end of the year.
“The installation will start in August and it will be completed in December of ’08,” said Karen Leland, a spokeswoman for ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.
David Brixen, the school’s assistant vice president for capital facilities services, said officials hope to triple the output of solar power within three years, so that the sun is producing about 20 percent of the campus’ energy.
Altogether, the equipment will occupy 135,000 square feet of roof space, but university officials said they can eventually accommodate 330,000 square feet of solar power generators.
The two megawatts provided by the equipment will be enough to power 4,600 computers and save the university $425,000 in electricity costs, officials said.
It will also decrease the campus’ carbon emissions by 2,825 tons a year, which is equal to 523 vehicles.
“It is hugely significant for the state of Arizona because it represents what I think will be the first of many large solar installations throughout the state,” said Kris Mayes, who sits on the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utility companies.
Mayes, a proponent of solar energy technology, said she foresees government buildings, businesses and homeowners across Arizona eventually relying heavily on the sun for power.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.
ASU will offset the purchasing costs of the power using federal and state tax credits and incentives from Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility company.
The university goal to increase the solar energy production to 20 percent hinges on whether Congress extends tax cuts, Brixen said.
“If not extended by the feds, (the program) expires December of ’08,” Brixen said.