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Downtown campus celebrates arrival of solar power

December 06, 2011

ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus is doing its part to stomp out global warming by reducing the area’s carbon footprint while producing clean and secure power for the future. 

ASU recently completed a public-private partnership resulting in a 77-kilowatt solar system being installed on the roof of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The project cost approximately $815,000 and includes 322 solar panels. Officials from ASU, Arizona Public Service and the City of Phoenix held a Dec. 6 dedication ceremony to recognize ASU’s “greening” of the maroon and gold.

“We’re in the Valley of the Sun, and it just makes good sense for us to embrace emerging technologies in solar energy,” said Morgan Olsen, ASU’s executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer. “ASU has been a leader in alternative energy research for a very long time.”

The system will generate approximately 122,335-kilowatt hours of electricity annually and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 153,000 pounds per year. That’s the carbon equivalent to removing the annual emissions of 15 cars, or planting more than 2,000 trees.

“A public-private partnership like this is a prime example of how we can incorporate renewable energy into city-owned buildings to support green jobs and reduce our carbon footprint in the community," said Phoenix Councilman Bill Gates, chairman of the city's Finance, Efficiency and Innovation Subcommittee. “Phoenix is focused on the future of sustainability and partnerships like this move us toward a more efficient use of our resources.”

The Cronkite Solar Power Plant is just one of more than 50 solar installations on three of ASU’s four campuses. It has agreements, ranging from 15 to 20 years, with local utility companies and solar developers to install and operate the others. The university will buy the energy back from the companies at a fixed cost.

The fixed cost also includes the benefit of federal and state tax credits as well as renewable-energy incentives provided by Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project.

According to Campus Solarization Program, the more than 50,000 solar panels generate energy equivalent to about 7 percent of the university’s total annual consumption. The university hopes to increase that amount to 15 percent by 2014.

To learn more about ASU’s Campus Solarization Program, visit