Soakin' Up Some Rays<br><i>Photovoltaic project lights way at Gray Wolf Landfill</i>

Staff photo by Guinda Reeves

APS PROJECT MANAGER Scott Canada (far left) explains how a tilted tracker works to visitors (from left) Mark Randall of Cottonwood, Rennie Radoccia of Clarkdale, and David Lewis of the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

“It’s quite an impressive array of solar equipment,” said Jim Arwood, solar coordinator for the Arizona Department of Commerce (DOC) Energy Office, during a tour of the facility last week.

The facility is just off Interstate 17, on Arizona 169 toward Dewey, in an unincorporated area of Yavapai County. Prescott National Forest surrounds the property.

Also on site Dec. 19 for the tour were:

Peter Johnston, Ph.D., head of New Technologies for Arizona Public Service (APS); Janet Crow, APS Solar Services in Phoenix; Scott Canada, APS project manager;

Les Baker, of Waste Management, Inc. (WMI); David Lewis, energy director for the Yavapai-Apache Nation (Y-AN), Camp Verde; Robbin Partridge, also from the Y-AN; and

Rennie Radoccia, Clarkdale, and Mark Randall, Cottonwood, both members of the Governor’s Solar Energy Advisory Council.

Arizona has a lot of solar rays year-round, and the Gray Wolf project seeks to make the most of them – to produce enough energy to replace at least three large, diesel generators at the landfill.

The PV project is a joint, cooperative effort among the state DOC Energy Office, APS and WMI.

The solar-power project is financed by a federal grant, administered through the state DOC, according to Arwood.

Because of the national forest lands that surround the landfill site, Baker said, it would be expensive and difficult for WMI to bring in power lines. The cost to bring in electricity was estimated at approximately $1 million, he said.

Using solar energy eliminates those expensive, environmental and federal bureaucracy-laden problems.

The solar project at Gray Wolf has eight tilted trackers, each with 20 solar panels, following the sun throughout the day.

Basically, solar-produced electricity -- DC or direct-current power -- goes from the panels and tracker through small conduits into a structure housing banks of batteries.

The DC power is then converted into AC or alternating-current power, according to Thomas Fletcher, an APS solar engineer.

The Gray Wolf solar-energy facility is producing enough power that only one smaller diesel or gasoline generator is still used at the landfill, officials said.

Solar power is cutting the landfill’s energy costs, according to Baker. The difference is approximately $1,200-$1,500 per month.

For example, the diesel generators (with the unwanted emissions) were using more than 250 gallons of diesel fuel a month, Baker said.

Costs to run the diesel generators were approximately $8,000 per month, he said. By converting to a cleaner power source, costs have decreased to approximately $6,800-$6,500 per month.

The Gray Wolf solar-power system is designed to be its own stand-alone power grid, Canada said. Under the grant, APS will handle the system for the next five years, he said, then WMI will own the system.

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