Mesa's ASU polytechnic campus to get solar plant - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Mesa's ASU polytechnic campus to get solar plant

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Posted: Friday, January 13, 2012 9:26 am

Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus will get a 1-megawatt solar plant, with technology touted to produce the lowest-cost solar electricity available today.

The power plant will produce about 17 percent of peak power demand at the Mesa campus, or enough electricity to power 225 homes.

The facility will be developed by California-based SunPower Corp., which will sell energy to ASU through Salt River Project. The campus will be the first commercial deployment of a new technology by SunPower, which concentrates the sun's power seven times to produce electricity. The equipment uses rows of parabolic mirrors to reflect light onto silicon cells.

ASU will pay SunPower 10 cents per kilowatt hour for 10 years, said Jean Humpries, director of the university's solar team. ASU should save money from its inception - and more as time goes on.

"The university is getting a fixed rate, so as the electricity rates go up, the solar rate doesn't," Humpries said.

The solar facility will bring ASU closer to its goal of generating 20 megawatts of solar energy by 2014. It now produces 14.5 megawatts.

The solar generation area will take up 16.7 acres of the 600-acre campus.

Polytechnic has two smaller solar facilities under construction and will consider others to meet energy demands, Humpries said.

"As the campus expands and we need more buildings, certainly we'll look at that," she said.

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