Due to a partnership with Salt River Project (SRP), 19 campuses across the Kyrene School District are now being powered by a small amount of solar power.

SRP unveiled the freshly opened Copper Crossing Solar Ranch in Florence, which has the capacity to generate up to 20 megawatts of solar power, and began supplying to the schools on Sept. 1. The goal, a spokesperson for SRP said, is to have 18 megawatts go to local schools who are SRP customers. The other 2 megawatts will go to residential areas in the future.

Kyrene's campuses are part of the first 100 schools to take part in SRP's Community Solar program. They will be receiving 1,480 kilowatts per year from the new plant.

There was no up-front cost for Kyrene and they will pay only marginally more on their electricity bills, according to Roy Morris, assistant director of facilities and grounds for Kyrene.

"It was a good opportunity to invest in clean energy," Morris said.

Copper Crossing Solar Ranch was paid for by funds collected from the Environmental Adjustment Factor, a small charge that averages about $4.50, which every SRP customer pays each month. The solar plant is one facet of a clean energy plan for SRP, which has set a goal to produce 20 percent of its retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020.

Part of the new program also paves the way to integrate solar education into the classroom. SRP will be providing $350 grants to local teachers to fund classroom projects, which could be used to purchase tools to enhance the learning experience.

Copper Crossing Solar Ranch contains approximately 66,000 solar panels and is located on 144 acres. Currently, schools have signed up to utilize eight of the 18 megawatts the plant produces.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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