The University of Arizona and a a local utility have reached an agreement to provide the Tucson campus with enough clean, emission-free power from solar, storage and wind systems to serve all of its purchased power needs.
The unversity says if the agreement is approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission, it will be the largest research university in the nation to have a plan in place to offset the entirety of its scope two emissions. Scope two emissions are greenhouse gases that result from the generation of electricity, heat or steam purchased from a utility provider.
“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,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “I believe it is up to higher education institutions to lead the way on clean energy solutions."
The utility, Tucson Electric Power, expects to provide more than 28% of its power from renewable resources in 2021, nearly doubling the 2025 goal for the state of Arizona.
Under the agreement, Tulsa Electric will dedicate portions of two new renewable energy projects to serving the energy needs of the University of Arizona, including a wind farm in New Mexico and the Wilmot Energy Center, a solar-plus-storage system southeast of Tucson.
That center will include a 100-megawatt solar array and a 30-MW energy storage system. The system will include about 314,000 solar panels on 1,130 acres. Construction is planned to begin in January, and the system is expected to be online by December 2020.
The Oso Grande Wind Project on 24,000 acres southeast of Roswell, N.M., will generate up to 247 MW for the university and other utility customers. The project will include 61 highly efficient turbines.
Tucson Electric expects construction to begin later this year, and the system also should be in service by the end of 2020.
The agreement will provide the university with affordable access to energy from those two systems for 20 years.
“We have been researching a way to implement 100-percent green energy, and this deal gets us there in one fell swoop,” said UA Assistant Vice President of Facilities Management Chris Kopach. “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.”