The Recreation Centers of Sun City West’s new solar project could put Beardsley’s aquatic center on the map for being the largest thermal pool heating system in Arizona.

The project begins next week, when 60 panels are installed on top of the aquatic center.

The panels will heat the pool, spa and domestic water supply, in addition to the air in the building.

Mike Scalia of Carlson Solar says the panels complete the largest thermal pool heating system in Arizona. All together, he estimates that the center will save about $16,000-$17,000 a month. “Thermal really is the best way to heat water,” Scalia said. “The Valley just gets so much sun.”  

The project has been in the works a couple of years as the association had to apply for energy credits and design the project with the contractor.

It will be up and running by late January and is expected to cut Beardsley’s natural gas bill by about 40 percent, officials said. The overall project cost $195,000, but thanks to the energy credits, the association’s cost is reduced to $22,800.

The solar initiative is meant not only to reduce natural gas costs, but to cut electric costs as well association-wide, officials said. The Rec Centers spend about $1 million with APS for its electricity needs.

In January, the Rec Centers will install solar lighting in the small dog park. If it proves successful, solar lights will also be installed in the large dog park.

The solar initiative is also examining the possibility of installing solar electric systems at some of the other facilities, including golf course maintenance yards. The association will be sending bids to three companies for an initial project that would install solar electric panels at Echo Mesa Maintenance Yard. That project is expected to cut the utility costs at the maintenance yard by 50 percent.

Rec Centers officials said they are continuing programs of recycling, reducing water usage, taking advantage of posting more materials online to save in paper costs, and other environmentally friendly management alternatives.

Residents can find information about solar thermal and photo voltaic systems, as well as steps they can take to be more energy efficient, by visiting and clicking on the “SCW Solar Initiative” link under “Member Info,” or go directly to

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