Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TEP wise to prefer degraded land for big solar

750-kilowatt solar power system at Global Solar’s manufacturing facility in southeast Tucson, LD29.

TUCSON -- Southern Arizona's big electric utility, UniSource's (UNS) Tucson Electric Power, is looking to build a big solar plant near the city.

"Our hope is that these systems would be located on land that would not be used for other purposes," said TEP spokesman Joe Salkowski. "A closed landfill would be a good example of the sort of land we'd like to use."

As an ecologist and member of the Arizona House of Representatives Water and Energy Committee, I still prefer distributed solar power generation on existing rooftops. Nevertheless, for big solar I'm pleased TEP seems to be wisely looking for sites on already disturbed lands.

Other utilities are making enemies and controversial mistakes, especially in Nevada and California, by trying to locate big solar on important desert wildlife habitat.

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