Similar to a system installed at Payson High School, Gila Community College campuses could soon have solar covered parking areas.
The move would mean cheaper energy for the college with the added benefit of no upfront costs due to various tax incentives.
The plan calls for covering the parking areas at both the Gila Pueblo and Payson campuses with a 104-kilowatt system that would generate a $440,000 savings over the life of the system, said Tom Harris, managing member with PV Advanced Concepts, a solar project developer and financial broker.
Harris said the college has to act quickly though because awards are given on a first come, first served basis, and the application deadline is Aug. 31.
If approved, the program would be funded partly through solar energy incentives through the Arizona Public Service (APS) Solar for Schools and Government program.
Harris said he needs board approval to put in a request for proposal (RFP) for the project. But even if the college is approved, it does not have to go ahead with construction.
This pleased some board members, who are interested in a solar project with ASU.
Payson Mayor Kenny Evans said he is working on a large solar project for the proposed ASU campus in Payson that would not only power the university, but also the community college.
Evans is working under the same strict time constraints to get the project funded through tax incentives and grants that could reduce the cost of the project by nearly 50 percent.
If approved, construction on the 7.5-megawatt solar power-generating project would begin soon, Evans said.
However, if GCC goes with Harris on the project, GCC could find itself excluded from Evans’ plans.
This has board members Tom Loeffler and Larry Stephenson concerned.
Loeffler is working with Evans on the ASU solar project and assured the board Evans would have his RFP in by the Aug. 31 deadline.
Stephenson suggested that if the board went ahead with Harris’ plan that the college put in two RFPs, one for the Gila Pueblo campus and one for the Payson campus. That way, Gila Pueblo could still get a system if the Payson campus went with Evans.
The rest of the board agreed and approved the motion.
Harris explained the system he is proposing would cover 80 percent of both campuses electricity needs. There are no upfront costs to the college due to the incentives and third party financiers, like PV Advanced Concepts.
GCC would sign a 15- to 20-year agreement with a buyout option available.
If Harris’ RFP is approved, construction could start as early as February with the systems online by May. Gila County is also working with Harris to get solar on several county buildings, including the public works building, Globe courthouse and Payson courthouse.