By: Tony Ault, Anza Valley Outlook, October 21, 2016
The groundbreaking for the long-awaited Sun Anza solar project at the Anza Electric Cooperative property took place Oct. 15 with AEC board members, county officials and Cenergy Power contractors attending.
Barry Brown, director of engineering Arizona’s Generation and Transmission Cooperatives, gave a brief history of the five-year effort to bring a solar generation station to the AEC that includes gaining a grant through the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative, working with other cooperatives and gaining permits from the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.
The new solar generation system that will be in operation in the next few months will provide two grid-interactive megawatts of power to AEC’s customers in the Anza and Aguanga valleys, Garner Valley, Mountain Center and parts of Sage.
Standing will AEC board members and other officials is Barbara Bradford, in the pink dress with AEC General Manager Kevin Short following the Oct. 15 Sun Anza Solar project groundbreaking. Bradford’s late husband Bill was one of AEC founder members. Tony Ault photo
This youngster looks over one of the solar panels that will make up a 2 Megawatt solar array that will be constructed at the Anza Electric Cooperatives headquarters. The array will supply electric power to 14 percent of AEC customers at build-out. Tony Ault photo
Nathan Hatch from the Arizona Cooperatives at the groundbreaking ceremony said the two megawatt solar array will be the first phase of a two-phase system. The second phase will include another two megawatt array that will be constructed as soon as possible in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and control costs.
“It is a build as needed project that is challenging to us in Arizona,” he said noting the Arizona Cooperatives tie in with the AEC cooperative, with all working together to provide power to rural customers in the Southwestern states. “The preliminary process is difficult.”
Bill Pham, co-founder of Cenergy Power who is contracted to build the solar array, said “this project symbolizes a sense of cooperation along the five-year path… It was a give and take process and we asked ‘how do we keep going?’” He mentioned legal and engineering issues with Riverside County and the Department of Energy getting the project approved.
Vern Lauritzen, Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington’s chief of staff, admitted there were some project delays because of county permit requirements, but those were accomplished with the supervisors’ help. He promised the supervisors office in the future will work to expedite the project as it moves along.
“You are going to get there,” he said.
Kevin Short, AEC manager, addressing those attending said the new four megawatt solar system at build-out will support 14 percent of the AEC annual energy output.
“We will see a stronger and more resilient power system… Welcome to the future of energy production,” he said
With that, AEC Board of Directors, led by president Bill Adams, and energy officials picked up the “golden” shovels and broke ground for the Sun Energy project. Handed one of the shovels after the ceremony was special guest and a pioneer founder to AEC 94-year-old Barbara Bradford. She was a leader of the visionaries who saw the valley’s need for their own efficient electric power system 65 years ago.
Other special guests attending the AEC Sun Energy solar project groundbreaking were John Wallace. CEO of Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative and from Cenergy Power, Ryan Kretschmer and Chad Chabazi.
The Sun Energy Solar Project is located at 58470 Highway 371 in Anza. Motorists and visitors will be seeing the project under construction during the next few months. It will be the second major solar array project the Anza area the first completed at the Cahuilla Indian Reservation where their solar arrays provide most of the energy for the tribe’s casino and headquarters offices.
View Original Story on Anza Valley Outlook Website