APS using solar energy to meet summer demand


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 23 at 5:10 PM

Do you have rooftop solar panels?

PHOENIX -- Although we've already seen several triple-digit days, even up to 110 degrees, summer has not officially started yet. That happens Saturday morning with the summer solstice.

APS will be using solar energy to meet the increased demand it sees every summer.

3TV's Tess Rafols gave us a look at the utility's solar energy monitoring facility in downtown Phoenix.

"We have 755 megawatts of solar on our system. That's enough to power 185,000 Arizona homes," Jenna Shaver of APS explained. "It goes a long way to helping meet our customers' energy demand over the summer. ... Even if customers don't have rooftop solar, they're still getting solar power from APS."

The Solana Generating Station along Interstate 8 just outside of Gila Bend uses 1 million parabolic trough mirrors to capture the sun's heat which can then be stored for later use, up to six hours after the sun goes down. The plant generates about 280 megawatts, which is enough to power about 70,000 homes.

With its unique thermal energy storage, Shaver said Solana, which was completed in 2013, is an essential component of the utility's generation portfolio because the plant continues to produce electricity when customers need it most.

According to the Solar Electric Power Association, APS was No. 3 in the country for solar installed last year.

The Arizona Corporation Commission has mandated that regulated utilities in Arizona must ensure that at least 15 percent of their electricity is from renewable sources like solar by 2025.