SRP announces new solar facility near Florence

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Salt River Project plans to buy solar power from a new plant a Utah-based company will build near Florence next year.

More than 500,000 photovoltaic modules will make up the Sandstone Solar Power Plan. Those modules will produce 45 megawatts of energy, and according to the 21-year deal, SRP will buy all of it.

The Sandstone output will be equivalent to about 10,000 residential rooftop solar installations.

SRP will pay sPower, the facility's owner, a little more than 5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is not much more than average on-peak market price for electricity - about 4 cents per kWh.

"This opportunity best represents SRP's goal to acquire the most cost-effective clean, renewable resources for the benefit of all of our customers," SRP Deputy General Manager John Sullivan said in a news release. "In time, the price we will pay for energy from the Sandstone Solar Plant will actually be less than some of our traditional resources."

SRP plans to have 20 percent of its electricity requirements come from sustainable resources, including solar power, by 2020. With power coming from Copper Crossing Solar Ranch in Florence, the Queen Creek Solar Farm and a solar tracking system at ASU Polytechnic Campus in Mesa, it is already more than halfway there.

SRP is the third-largest public power utility in the nation, serving about 990,000 electric customers in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.

Sandstone is slated to be online in December 2015.