Construction on Arizona Electric Power Cooperative’s (AEPCO) 20 MW Apache Solar Project in Cochise, AZ., is nearly complete, with September generation slated to come online while the Apache Coal unit 2 is converted from coal to natural gas.
A contract for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) was awarded in November 2016 to Swinerton Renewable Energy (SRE). The array will include over 77,000 Jinko solar panels mounted on Array single-axis trackers.
The 20 MW Apache Solar array will serve six electricity cooperatives in the area, including Sulphur Springs Valley Electric, Graham County, Duncan Valley, Mohave and TRICO, in Arizona, as well as Anza in California. The service area includes over 400,000 individual residential, commercial, agricultural, and industrial consumers.
AEPCO also owns and maintains more than 620 miles of transmission lines and 26 substations providing wholesale electric power to the six member distribution cooperatives located in southern Arizona, western New Mexico, northwestern Arizona and California.
Before AEPCO launched its renewables program, nearly 80 percent of the energy it delivered to its cooperative members came from the coal-fired Apache Generating Station, also near Cochise.
Unemployment in the area has been a hot issue. Swinerton Renewable made many local hires for the Apache Solar Project and is keeping some of those workers on staff for solar projects elsewhere in the country.
Swinerton Renewables also built the 75 MW Red Horse II Solar and Project, which also utilized Jinko solar panels.
Correction: This article was corrected on June 13. The new version corrects an earlier story which incorrectly stated that a 2018 shut down of the Apache Coal Plant was planned.