By the time all 45,000 solar panels are in the ground and another 36,000 are mounted on the roofs of the 900 or so houses in Soaring Heights Communities, the project’s total annual PV output will top 10 million kWh – enough to cover 75% of Soaring Heights’ electricity needs.
That’s a lot of juice. The partners in this development – housing developer Actus Lend Lease, solar provider SolarCity, Tucson Electric Power, and financing parties National Bank of Arizona and U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation – say the project will be the largest of its kind in the continental U.S., and with adjustments over time, could become a net-zero-energy operation.
Once build-out is complete, Soaring Heights – which is part of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base – also will represent a 15% increase over Arizona’s current grid-tied solar capacity.
Although the community includes existing homes, most will be new structures built to energy efficiency standards of Tucson Electric Power’s Guarantee Home Program, which provides rate guarantees for heating and cooling in homes that meet the standards.
And because the ground and rooftop solar power systems will help Tucson Electric Power reach renewable-energy goals set by state regulators, the company also will provide incentives through its customer-funded SunShare program to reduce the long-term cost of Soaring Heights’ PV installation, whose systems will be designed and installed by SolarCity and interconnected by TEP.
SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive called Soaring Heights “our largest installation to date. We expect this project to be a springboard for additional clean power development in Arizona, one of the best locations for solar in the world.”