ASU, PayPal and APS Add Solar Power for AZ

Posted on January 12, 2017 • Category: Water, Forests & Open Spaces

Arizona Public Service (APS) is showing how utilities can partner with customers to develop cost-effective solar energy. The Red Rock Solar Plant is a 40-megawatt photovoltaic plant located 30 miles south of Casa Grande in Red Rock, Ariz. Arizona State University (ASU) and PayPal will purchase renewable energy from APS that is equivalent to the amount Red Rock is projected to generate.

ASU and PayPal were both seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint, and this agreement helps ASU expand its solar energy sourcing beyond its almost 25 megawatts of on-campus solar sites. It also helps PayPal keep up with its energy demand.

“The construction of Red Rock is a great example of how we partner with our commercial customers to find innovative and sustainable solutions that can help them realize their green energy goals,” said Daniel Froetscher, APS Senior Vice President of Transmission, Distribution and Customers. “The cooperation between APS, ASU and PayPal demonstrates how the Arizona business community is committed to developing solar energy in a smart, cost-effective manner.”

Red Rock is APS’s largest grid-scale solar power plant, surpassing the 35-megawatt Foothills Solar Plant located near Yuma, Ariz. Large solar plants take advantage of economies of scale to provide additional solar to more customers at a lower cost.

“Arizona is one of the most solar-friendly states in the nation, and APS remains at the forefront among solar-friendly companies,” Froetscher said. “In fact, last year, we reached one gigawatt of solar on our system, becoming the only utility outside California to achieve this milestone.”

“We are very pleased that the Red Rock Solar Plant will more than double our solar generating capacity to more than 50 megawatts,” said Morgan R. Olsen, ASU Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer. “This project enables us to expand our solar portfolio substantially with no initial capital investment and underscores our sustainability commitment.

This is the first solar project in Arizona for PayPal, which has a data center in central Phoenix. According to Daniel Torunian, PayPal Vice President of Core Platform and Infrastructure, the power purchased from PayPal’s share of the Red Rock plant will be equivalent to about 75 percent of the power used by the data center. The company purchases additional renewable energy credits from APS to offset 100 percent of the center’s energy use with renewables.

“This is our only facility where we are using this model at this time,” Torunian said.

The Red Rock Solar Plant is located east of APS’s Saguaro Natural Gas Power Plant on land APS has owned since the 1950s. With transmission lines already nearby, the 400-acre plot was an ideal location for a grid-scale solar plant. With the completion of the solar plant, the land is now creating additional tax income for Pinal County and other local taxing authorities.