UArizona and TEP Given Green Light for 100% Clean Energy Project
The Arizona Corporation Commission voted at its Dec. 10 meeting to approve the largest renewable energy project in Arizona between a university and a utility company. The commission oversees the state’s electric power industry.
The University of Arizona and Tucson Electric Power, or TEP, will embark on a 100% clean energy project to provide the campus with enough emission-free power from new solar, storage and wind systems to serve all its purchased power needs for 20 years.
The move makes the research university the largest in the country with a plan to offset the entirety of its scope two emissions, which are greenhouse gases resulting from the generation of electricity, heat or steam purchased from a utility provider.
“We made a commitment to become a more sustainable campus, and now we have in place a system that will make a significant impact in just two years,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins, who made sustainability a key initiative in the recently announced strategic plan. “I believe it is up to higher education institutions to lead the way on clean energy solutions. This university is already a leader in environmental and sustainability research, and we found a partner in TEP that shares our commitment to make effectual change.”
Under the agreement, TEP will dedicate portions of two new renewable energy projects to serving the energy needs of the University of Arizona, including a wind farm in New Mexico and a solar-plus-storage system southeast of Tucson, both of which are expected to begin service by late 2020.
“We’re proud to support the ambitious renewable energy goals of President Robbins and the University of Arizona, which are consistent with our own aspirations,” said TEP President and CEO David G. Hutchens. “We’re working together with our customers to build a sustainable energy future for our community.”
TEP also is working with climate experts at the University of Arizona Institute of the Environment to develop measurable, science-based carbon-reduction targets to help guide its long-term resource development plans.
“We have been researching a way to implement 100-percent green energy, and this deal gets us there in one fell swoop,” said Chris Kopach, assistant vice president of Facilities Management at the University of Arizona. “This project provides capacity for consistent and reliable power with capacity for decades of growth in Tucson and on campus; the kind of capacity needed by a Research I university.”
The University of Arizona is part of the University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, which is committed to reducing climate-changing emissions and improving research on climate change policy across its 20 member universities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
“This exciting project is consistent with the impactful cross-disciplinary research and teaching taking place at the University of Arizona,” said Office of Sustainability Director Trevor Ledbetter. “Southern Arizona is one of the fastest warming areas in America, and anything we do to slow it down helps us at home. It is our responsibility to be a leader in this space and to do so alongside our community, and this project is a significant step in the right direction.”