Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gila Bend - solar capital of the world?

"Gila Bend has set a world record in utility scale solar plant construction….Right now, we can't build solar power faster anywhere in the world,” says First Solar Vice President Jim Woodruff.

According to US Dept. of Energy, two solar companies, First Solar's Paloma and Cotton Center have power plants under construction that should deliver enough power to the Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) power grid by 2012 to supply about 9,000 homes. Two other plants have filed applications with the town, "with the possibility of 10-15 more viable plants in the pipeline" which could make Gila Bend the solar power capital of the world. [right, Paloma and Cotton Center solar plants. Credit town of Gila Bend]

DOE attributes the towns success first to the establishment of a "Solar Field Overlay Zone" (SFOZ), which greatly reduced the complications for solar companies to develop the sun-soaked fields located within the town. Secondly, they say town officials expedite the speed at which solar companies’ construction plans can get approved. "Processes that usually take at least a year, and often several years, can now go through public hearings, citizen review sessions, planning and zoning commissions hearings, publication in a newspaper, and council approval in as little as four weeks."


  1. Anonymous5:03 PM

    A few years ago I attended a meeting where an APS official was speaking about nuclear and solar power. It was pointed out that nuclear power cost approximately two cents a kilowatt hour to produce and solar power cost 12 cents a kilowatt hour. This is something the general public is not well informed about. The environmentalist are against both nuclear and solar power for different reasons. There is no satisfying some of the general public. Are you willing to pay a tremendous amount more for your power if a greater majority is sun produced over the next few decades? I doubt it. Another thing the public is not aware of is that as the solar cells age they are not as efficient which means they produce less power and your electric bills will not necessarily see an increase, but more energy plants or alternatives will need to be built to make up the difference. New energy sources are good, but beware of the negartive impacts and the whole story before you endorse anything wholeheartedly.

  2. Anonymous 27:19 AM

    As anonymous correctly notes, cost to produce solar power is far greater than for conventional methods and would not be done without substantial subsidies. When a solar farm goes belly-up are regulations in place to require that the panels be removed, or will we be stuck with HUGE solar junkyards?

  3. Anonymous6:36 PM

    Anonymous said that "as the solar cells age they are not as efficient.....but more energy plants or alternative will need to be built to make up the difference." No, what you do is replace the cells/panels, duh! And yes, solar power is at the moment is more costly. It always is more costly at start up and prices decrease as their is more supply/demand. It is always that way. Get a clue. Why don't you ask the solar farms or those putting them in place what terms are in place for cleaning up instead of insinuating otherwise? Those types of documents are public information, just ask!