Sun Devils soak up solar power

September 6, 2011

Arizona State University exceeds 10 megawatts (MW) of solar-energy capacity, making it the only higher education institution in the United States to have a solar capacity of this size. According to Ameresco Southwest, Inc. – formerly APS Energy Services, Inc. – 10 MW is enough energy to power 2,500 Arizona homes. 

“Surpassing 10 megawatts of solar energy capacity is a tremendous accomplishment for ASU and our partners,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “Over the years we have made several major commitments to sustainability, such as establishing the first school devoted to sustainability, raising awareness of how to live sustainable lives and finding ways to harness natural resources, like our abundance of sunshine. By doing these things, we are making a brighter future for ourselves and the place in which we live.” The sun rises over the Verde Dickey Dome solar installation. Download Full Image

Ten MW represents roughly 20 percent of ASU’s peak load, and reduces its carbon footprint between 5 to 10 percent. Pushing ASU past the 10 MW mark is its latest 700-panel, 168-kilowatt (kW), ground-mount photovoltaic installation on its Tempe campus. Solar installations currently are operating at two of ASU’s four campuses, Tempe and West.

“Ten megawatts is a pinnacle for ASU and represents years of dedication to working toward our campus sustainability goals,” said David Brixen, ASU’s associate vice president of Facilities Development and Management. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest solar installation at a single university in the United States.”

ASU’s solar installations that are mounted on the top floors of parking structures and buildings not only provide shade from the fierce Arizona sun, but they also provide ASU with potential energy cost-savings opportunities in the future.

“Harnessing the sun’s power across ASU campuses allows us to benefit from our natural resources and expand our clean-energy capabilities, while also providing future opportunities to reduce our energy costs; monies that can be invested in other sustainability related projects,” said Morgan Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer, and CFO at ASU.

ASU began taking advantage of its geographic location to utilize solar energy in October 2004, with a 34-kW installation at the Tyler Street parking structure on its Tempe campus. Over the years, several business partners have played a role in helping ASU achieve 10 MW of solar-generating capacity, including:

  • Ameresco Southwest, Inc. (formerly APS Energy Services, Inc.)
  • Blue Renewable Energy
  • CarbonFree Technology
  • Independent Energy Group of Arizona, LLC
  • Lafferty Electric Technologies, LLC
  • NRG Energy, Inc.
  • Solar Power Partners, LLC
  • Strategic Solar Energy, LLC
  • Sun Devil Solar, LLC

ASU’s solar installations are facilitated, in part, by the APS Renewable Energy Incentive Program. This program offers financial incentives to customers who add renewable energy systems to their homes or business.

About Arizona State University:

Arizona State University is the largest public research university in the United States under a single administration, with total student enrollment of more than 72,000 in metropolitan Phoenix, the nation’s sixth-largest city. ASU is creating a new model for American higher education, an unprecedented combination of academic excellence, entrepreneurial energy and broad access. This New American University is a single, unified institution comprising four differentiated campuses positively impacting the economic, social, cultural and environmental health of the communities it serves. Its research is inspired by real world application, blurring the boundaries that traditionally separate academic disciplines. ASU champions intellectual and cultural diversity, and welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 nations across the globe.

Written by:
Wendy Craft, (480) 965-6695,

Media contact:
Skip Derra, (480) 965-4823,

Wendy Craft

Marketing and communications manager, Business and Finance Communications Group


Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship awardees announced

September 6, 2011

Five students in the School of Social Work’s Tucson Component have been named the initial recipients of the Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship, established by Community Partnership of Southern Arizona and ASU.

CPSA, the Regional Behavioral Health Authority for Pima County, joined with ASU’s School of Social Work to establish the endowed scholarship in February 2011 to honor Zimmerman, who graduated in 2006 from the master’s program at the school’s Tucson Component.  An aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Zimmerman was among those killed in the Jan. 8 shootings. Download Full Image

Zimmerman was known for his dedication to serving others, his belief in democracy, and his uncompromising respect for others. Other organizations and individuals in the Tucson community have also contributed to the scholarship fund.

The $4,000 scholarships are for master’s-level students who have demonstrated dedication to public behavioral health or public policy and who have shown a commitment to the values of service and social justice that Zimmerman demonstrated.

The 2011-2012 recipients are:

• Faviola Augustin, a former labor organizer and currently an advocate for child victims of crime, immigrant rights and the Latino community. She hopes to work in public behavioral health as an advocate for Latinas who have experienced sexual violence and trauma, to help them bring about change on the personal and community levels.

• Jeffrey Dixon, pastor of Community Presbyterian Church of San Manuel; former chaplain resident at University Medical Center and group facilitator at COPE Community Services. He has blended his pastoral experiences with social action and hopes to become a therapist. He is employed at the new Crisis Response Center.

• John Rorke, a U.S. Army veteran and former constituent-services intern in Rep. Giffords’ office who now interns with Pima County government. He plans to focus on issues of public policy and continues to work with Giffords’ office on community outreach, veterans’ affairs, and immigration issues.

• Casandra Thompson, also a U.S. Army veteran, who has worked in public and private behavioral-health settings and now is with Child Protective Services. A single mother, she hopes to advocate for improved public behavioral health services in the community.

•  Heather Voelkel, a former schoolteacher and education and advocacy coordinator for the Community Food Bank. She has also provided care at Las Familias for individuals who experienced childhood sexual abuse. She hopes to develop her leadership skills to bring about collaborations for social justice.

The awardees will be honored at a celebration luncheon on Sept. 13 at the Jewish Community Center.