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May 28, 2014

Ground Broken on Pima Mine Road Solar Generating Facility

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Construction has started on the Pima Mine Road Solar Generating Facility. The developer, Avalon Solar Partners LLC, recently hosted a groundbreaking ceremony marking the mid-May beginning of the site works.

Avalon Solar Partners is a subsidiary of Washington, D.C.-based Equator Solar LLC, which develops, owns and operates a portfolio of solar projects totaling over 400 megawatts located in the South West United States, Central America and Thailand.

Also known as Avalon Solar Project, the Arizona solar plant is being built at 915 East Pima Mine Road, about 12 miles south of Tucson, near Sahuarita. Tucson Electric Power will purchase the electricity generated at the 35 megawatt photovoltaic facility under terms of a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement. Being the second-largest investor-owned solar utility in Arizona, the plant will generate enough electricity to power north of 7,000 households, according to Equator Solar’s publication.

The facility is being hosted by Asarco on a 500-acre land under a long-term lease. The collaboration among the copper mining company, TEP and Equator was born out of an Environmental Protection Agency program that facilitates the reuse of disturbed lands such as mine sites for green energy projects. The solar farm will also help TEP achieve the state mandate that 15 percent of its power production come from renewable sources by 2025.

The facility is planned to be operational by the end of the current year. Construction of the array will bring around 300 temporary jobs. Four permanent positions will be created for maintenance and security of the system. Over $4 million in property tax revenue should be generated for Pima County over the life of the project, and an estimated $235,000 in county sales tax revenue during the facility’s construction.

The construction itself is expected to cost $100 million, Inside Tucson Business reports.

Photo credits: Citizenmj via Wikimedia Commons

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