Apache Solar Project fuels Arizona’s rural electrical co-ops

At the same time a report in March reported that rural co-ops around the United States were betting heavily on solar power, the Apache Solar Project began construction in an effort by Arizona G&T Cooperatives (AGTC) to provide solar power to co-ops that might not otherwise have access to it.

Mission accomplished. The plant, commissioned earlier this fall in Cochise County, expanded from an initial 17 MW-AC project to 20 MW in February when overwhelming subscription support left AGTC with no choice but to expand its capacity. Patrick Ledger, AGTC’s CEO, couldn’t be happier.

“Obviously, the more folks that are subscribing, the lower the cost, and that is the essence of cooperatives,” Ledger said. “A lot of public power – a lot of co-ops – are small. But when we get together, you’re taking advantage of an economy of scale. Wherever we can do that, we should.”

Initially planned as three separate projects, overwhelming response to the opportunity to subscribe led to its expansion this February to the 20 MW project that was completed in six months.

Ironically, the Apache Solar Plant is located directly across the street from AGTC’s main coal-generated power plant on 134 acres AGTC already owned, which lowered construction costs.

Apache Solar Project Fast Facts:

  • 20 MW-AC capacity
  • Total acres: 134 (all existing AEPCO property)
  • Total PV modules: 77,053
  • PV module power ratings: 320 watts
  • Nine 2.5 MW inverters, which convert the DC power generated by the panels to AC power
  • AEPCO designed and installed the 15/20/25 MVA 69/34.5 kVA step up transformer in the Apache 69 kV yard