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Sun Devils soak up solar power

The sun rises over the Verde Dickey Dome solar installation.
September 06, 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.”

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,