Solar project to generate enough power for 3,000 homes


On Tuesday, January 22, Trico Electric Cooperative formally introduced the Avion Community Solar Project at a dedication ceremony.

Avion is a 10-megawatt alternating current photovoltaic solar generating facility located on West Avra Valley Road within the Town of Marana. Trico and Torch Clean Energy are partners on the project, which began construction in August 2018 and began producing power in December.

Avion Solar has 40,716 solar photovoltaic modules and sits on approximately 80 acres of land previously used for farming and owned by Avra Plantation, Inc. Avion will produce more than 30,000 megawatt-hours of electric energy each year, or enough to power over 3,000 average residential homes in the Trico service territory.

Avion is the first community scale solar project for Trico. They also have SunWatts Community Sun Farm, a 227 kW, ground-mounted solar power system at its facility located at their office on Tangerine Road.

In 2005, less than 1 percent of the energy produced was from solar. Today, it is just under 14 percent with another 5 percent provided by hydro power.

“It is safe, reliable, environmentally responsible clean power,” said Trico Board Member Nick Buckelew.

“Changes in technology and the market have contributed to making renewable energy more cost-effective,“ CEO Vincent Nitido explained. “This, along with increased interest among our embers, has Trico and co-ops across the country finding new ways to bring the benefits of solar to our service areas.”

Marana Mayor Ed Honea was one of many Marana Town officials and staff at the event. Honea’s father was on the Trico board alongside Buckelew’s father, and he believes they could not have envisioned the evolution of Trico.

“They would be amazed that you could put solar panels out here and servicing over 3,000 homes,” Honea said.

Mayor Honea noted that the projects fits in well with the other solar projects in Marana. The Town of Marana has put solar panels in two of the parks and is in the midst of building solar parking structures at the Marana Municipal Complex. MHC and Marana Unified School District also have large solar presences in the community.

“I think it is really great that we are able to generate power that is renewable,” Honea added.