Southwestern Utilities Team Up on Massive Solar Power Project

December 12, 2007

Photo of a long row of curved mirrors connected together to form a trough shape. Supports extending from the center of the mirrors hold a glass tube that glows from the concentrated sunlight.

The developers of a new solar plant in the Southwest might draw on solar trough technology, which uses curved mirrors to concentrate the sun's heat. See a larger version of this photo.
Credit: Warren Gretz

A multi-state consortium of southwestern electric utilities joined forces on December 6th to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a large-scale solar power plant. The consortium members hope to persuade a third party to build a 250-megawatt solar thermal power plant in either Arizona or Nevada by 2012, in which case the utilities would jointly buy all the power produced by the power plant. The solar facility must employ concentrating solar power (CSP) technology, which involves concentrating the sun's heat using either trough-shaped mirrors, dish-shaped mirrors, or a series of flat mirrors that track the sun in unison. If truly built to a 250-megawatt capacity, the facility will be the largest solar power plant in either state. The minimum project size that will be accepted under the RFP is 100 megawatts, and the consortium members will give preference to facilities with thermal energy storage. To learn more about CSP technology, see the CSP section of DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Program Web site.

The utility consortium, dubbed the Southwest Energy Service Provider's Consortium for Solar Development, includes the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, Arizona Public Service (APS), the Southern California Public Power Authority, the Salt River Project (which provides power to Phoenix, Arizona), Tucson Electric Power, and Xcel Energy (which serves eight states in the West and Midwest), with APS coordinating the project. The consortium will hold a bidder's teleconference in January, and bids will be due on March 19th, 2008. See the press release and the RFP on the APS Web site (PDF 171 KB). Download Adobe Reader.