Arizona Western College's 5-megawatt solar installation gained national recognition on Thursday after being awarded as one of three most distinct photovoltaic projects for 2012 by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).
Selected from a pool of 84 submissions, AWC's 23-acre instillation was awarded with a national award at Photovoltaic (PV) America's annual conference in San Jose, Calif.
AWC was selected for the honor after being evaluated by an independent panel of judges representing associations, consultants, distributors, government, integrators, manufacturers and utilities.
“To qualify for the awards, all projects had to be operational and demonstrate a collective benefit to the community and innovative use of policy and financing to enhance the project's impact,” stated AWC.
The project at AWC is made up of five one-megawatt sites that surround the campus that will make up for nearly 100 percent of the daytime electricity needs at the college combining systems from SolFocus, GreenVolts, Sharp Solar, SolarWorld, Suntech and SunEdison.
“Watching our campus be transformed by the construction of these five distinct solar arrays was an amazing experience for our students and staff. Having completed the project, we are optimistic about the benefits it will have, not only for our faculty and students, but as an economic catalyst for the entire region. We believe this solar installation can be a model for other institutions across the country, combining energy savings with workforce development and technology testing. This award will help us tell that story to a broader audience,” stated Dr. Glenn Mayle, AWC president.
The system is owned and operated by Main Street Power and will remain that way for the next 30 years. AWC added that, PPA Partners, Inc is the solar developer who brought the concept to the campus about four years ago.
Savings that the college will gain in utility costs are estimated to be about $62 million.
The solar instillation, recognized as the third largest on a community college campus, also provides hands-on opportunities for students that are majoring in applied science with the college's partner universities.
“There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of the solar industry. The recipients of these awards exemplify the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that drives growth in the U.S. market,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “From community-based solar to schools and military facilities, these remarkable projects show that solar is working and Americans have more options than ever before to go solar. We are very pleased to present these awards and congratulate our three winners for their achievements and excellence in PV solar energy.”
“It is very important that we continue to acknowledge new innovation in PV and the successful completion of solar projects now and in the future,” said Julia Hamm, president and CEO of SEPA. “Our three winners demonstrate the viability and versatility of PV installations as well as the benefits they bring to their local communities. The Arizona Western College Solar Installation not only offsets 100 percent of the campus' daytime electricity needs but brings together five different solar technologies.”
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