The Valley of the Sun YMCA, the state’s oldest nonprofit, is going high-tech by partnering with Scout Solar, a Tempe business, to bring 1.6 megawatts of energy to 16 locations, three of which are in the East Valley.

The partnership provides solar panels to the YMCAs without any up-front costs to the organization.

Instead, YMCA will lease the panels for 20 years, paying for them with rebate money and energy savings, said Michael Norris, Scout Solar project administrator.

“We could not be more excited to activate a new era of sustainability for the YMCA throughout Arizona,” said George Scobas, Valley of the Sun YMCA president and chief executive officer. “Our partnership with Scout Solar, Centrosolar and Canadian Solar will substantially reduce our energy costs, so that we are able to continue our standard of bringing excellent, affordable programs to our local communities.”

Centrosolar America, Inc., headquartered in Scottsdale, and Canadian Solar provided solar modules and system components. The project will include more than 4,300 Centrosolar America and Canadian Solar modules mounted on rooftops and shade canopies across the Valley of the Sun YMCA facilities.

“Solar is a great option for nonprofits,” said Lori Singleton, SRP director for solar sustainability and technologies. “Right now, most nonprofits are hurting and reducing monthly operating costs can allow them to put their money toward other things.”

Plans for the solar panels began at the end of 2010, with construction beginning by the following June, Norris said.

“Through this solar installation, the YMCA is planning for the future by reducing electricity costs and locking in predictable, long-term rates,” Norris said.

Currently there are two East Valley YMCAs with operating solar installations — the Chandler/Gilbert Family YMCA at 1655 W. Frye Road and the Tempe Family YMCA at 7070 S. Rural Road.

The operations at each facility vary, as they depend on a number of circumstances such as size, location and feasibility, Norris said.

The Chandler/Gilbert Family YMCA currently produces approximately 96.6 kilowatts of energy, filling about 40 percent of its electricity needs, Norris said. It was equipped Jan. 18 and is the third of the 16 facilities to receive panels.

Tempe Family YMCA started producing energy on Feb. 2, and now produces about 96.6 kilowatts of energy. That fills about 20 percent of their energy needs, Norris said.

Currently, there are six active solar installations, including one at the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA.

The East Valley Family YMCA, located in Mesa, is planned to activate its panels in the fall. The facility will receive a 30.25 kilowatt system, which will supply the facility with about 10 percent of its energy needs.

However, several of the locations will receive secondary installations next year and Mesa is one of them, Norris said.

The locations receiving solar power go beyond the normal family YMCA locations; two camps operated by Valley of the Sun, Sky-Y and Chauncey Ranch are also receiving solar installations.

“Solar is a great option for businesses to participate in sustainable practices,” Singleton said. “We don’t have wind here, so it’s one of the ways for customers to be sustainable.”

In the first year alone, the installations are expected to supply an estimated 1.8 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Other partners who helped bring solar energy to the YMCA are Solar Energy Group for system design, Wang Electric on the electrical installation, and Skyline Steel to construct the shade canopies and racking.

Additional solar incentives for SRP commercial and residential customers will begin again on May 1.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-5645 or

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