Students, staff, construction workers and community leaders gathered to celebrate Arizona Western College’s solar revolution.
"Yuma is the sunniest city on the earth. It's leveraging, it's warm natural assets, and its turning sun into jobs," said Governor Jan Brewer.
Brewer made her way to Yuma to christen the solar field at AWC. Solar panels cover 23 acres, enough to power the entire AWC campus – and then some.
Arizona Public Service Vice President Pat Dinkel said the five different solar panel technologies in use at AWC help APS move towards providing clean, renewable energy for Arizonans. "Our renewable energy portfolio has grown from less than one megawatt a decade ago to 362 megawatts today... that's enough energy to more than 90,000 Arizona homes," said Dinkel.
Governor Brewer said a lot of the ground work for expanding solar technology in the state started in January. "We worked really, really hard during the last session to do a lot of things for renewable energy," said Brewer.
The governor says much of the legislation that came from this past session makes Arizona a leader in the solar industry. "Now we are third in the country in solar manufacturing, generation, and we have established hundreds and hundreds of new jobs," noted Brewer.
A few hundred of those jobs were here in Yuma, where construction workers and contractors worked to build the array. Brewer said the hard work across the state, and in Yuma, is yielding results. "We have been designated the solar state of the country,” said the governor, then she added, jokingly, “and a little tidbit, (I’m) named as the solar queen."
The AWC solar array is a public-private partnership, which means it’s a combination of private businesses working together with the State of Arizona, APS and Arizona Western College.
The company that built the array, Main Street Power, said in a report that the power generated on AWC’s campus will save the college $62 million over the next 30 years, the length of the operating contract.