AWC makes history with cutting edge solar installation

Yuma’s sunshine is about to pay off for AWC in a big way.

AWC, together with PPA and APS partners, have announced their plans to install the largest solar array on any college or university in the nation. The development has poised AWC as the nation’s leader in renewable energy technology and education.

In the press conference held today, March 2, 2010 at 11:00 in the 3C building, AWC President Dr. Marc Nigliazzo said, “(Renewable energy) is what this country is being called to do,” referring to President Obama’s vision of replacing imported oil with clean renewable energy. Designed as a testing and educational site, AWC’s solar array will cover 100% of the college’s daytime energy needs. The Guinness book of world records has pronounced Yuma the sunniest city on earth; what better place to have state-of-the art solar technology?  Nigliazzo also said, “This could well become a national model,” not only for colleges across the nation, but for the manufacturing industry as well. The attraction to Yuma for cutting edge energy reduction could draw businesses to the area, creating more jobs in the community and possibly changing the face of Yuma’s economy.

Marge Barcomb, president of AWC’s District Governing Board, told the press that the solar array is comprised of five million watts using five new technologies from Sol Focus, Skyline, Canadian Solar, Del Solar, and Signet Solar. Bruce Mercy, representative for PPA, later led us into more detailed information about these companies. Sol Focus is the highest concentration of solar as it follows the sun and harvests huge amounts of energy.  Skyline is a low concentration solar made from linear strips that are eleven times the concentration of the sun.  Canadian Solar, ironically out of China, distributes typical solar panels that we usually see with mono crystalline photovoltaic panels.  Del Solar are poly crystalline photovoltaic panels that are smashed and then put together again. The Signet Solar Panels are thin film photovoltaic panels which are the second highest energy producing panels.

Bill Smith, AWC Director of Facilities Management, stated that the south parking lot will be extended and these thin film panels will provide covered parking, as well as renewable energy. The other panels will be on the east and west sides of Otondo Loop Road. All this will be on single axis tracking system which is a high efficiency inverter by Satcon which converts dc energy to ac. Mr. Smith also emphasized the community outreach agenda with a plan for inroad tours and a learning kiosk for neighboring schools to bring children for field trips. He also emphasized the advantages for National recognition that Yuma will generate with this venture. There are also implications for a strong global presence in renewable energy technology.

Dr. Joann Linville, Vice President for Learning Services, stated that the “opportunities for education are endless,” as she listed off numerous science, engineering and biology programs possible with this planned array. She also listed plans to partner with four-year university programs for Bachelor and Master’s degrees.

Dr. Linville also revealed AWC’s online Solar Array service where anyone can track data from the panels. You can find this by going to the AWC home page, click on ‘online services,’ then ‘solar array.’  The data that is revealed displays the current generation from the panels already on top of the AS building, a mere fraction of the output that is to come with the 5 megawatt array.

Rex Step, APS Renewable Technical Account Representative, announced that their company which is supporting the installation is offering incentives for home and business owners who also switch to solar power.

The next 4-6 weeks are planned for the initial installation and planning for the solar array with an additional 5-8 months for development.  There will be a press conference in Fall 2010 to initiate the solar array.  Projected savings for AWC with the solar array over the next twenty years is $15.4 million.

Those interested in learning more about this historic event are invited to attend the meeting Wednesday night, March 3, at 6:00 p.m. in the south conference room of the 3C building or contact Lori Stofft, AWC Director of Public Relations & Marketing, at 928-314-9595, 928-246-4834 or

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