Salt River Project and Iberdrola Renewables have signed a 25-year power purchase agreement for 20 MW of solar photovoltaic energy from a Pinal County facility. SRP will purchase all of the solar energy produced at the Copper Crossing Solar Ranch Facility, which is expected to be online by June 2011.

The plant will be a part of SRP Community Solar - a pilot program that allows public schools and residential customers in the utility's service territory to purchase a portion of the output from the solar facility for a fixed price over a fixed term. Compared to other options, the program requires no upfront payment, and customers do not need to construct or maintain the equipment. Details regarding the residential program and prices will be announced at a later date.

The plant will produce an amount of energy equal to that needed to serve about 3,100 SRP customers' homes.

"From wind power to solar, our partnership with Iberdrola Renewables has resulted in thousands of SRP customers benefitting from clean, renewable energy," said SRP General Manager Richard Silverman.

SRP has purchased property located between Quail Run Lane and Attaway Road, and between Judd Road and Bella Vista Road, and will lease a portion of the property to Iberdrola Renewables for the development of the solar facility. The property is adjacent to the Abel receiving station. SRP also plans to develop natural gas peaking capacity near the Abel receiving station either on this property or on adjacent property. In addition to meeting peak customer demand, this natural gas facility is also needed to support intermittent renewable resources. The need for this natural gas power plant has been delayed by the recession and is not currently planned before 2015 with full build out by 2017 or beyond.

The sale, from what is expected to be one of Iberdrola Renewables' first solar projects in the U.S., signals the company's expansion into the solar power business for its utility customers.

The new solar plant will be the third large renewable power project in which SRP has partnered with Portland, Oregon-based Iberdrola Renewables - the 63-MW Dry Lake Wind Farm Phase 1 was dedicated as Arizona's first commercial-scale, wind power project in October 2009, and the 64-megawatt Phase 2 is scheduled to be complete by early 2011. SRP plans to add 450 MW of new wind, solar and geothermal resources by 2019.