One of Arizona’s largest solar power plants will deliver 400 MW of renewable energy to the state by 2024. Located about 30 miles northwest of Flagstaff on 2,400 acres of private land in Coconino County, CO Bar Solar is a partnership between Tempe-based not-for-profit utility SRP and solar and storage developer Boise-based Clēnera (pronounced “clean era”), which will build and operate the plant.
“This will be SRP’s largest stand-alone solar plant once built and in operation, and we can say with confidence it will be one of the largest in Arizona,” says Barry Petrey, manager of resource acquisition for SRP, the largest provider of electricity in the greater Phoenix metro area and its largest supplier of water.
The solar plant is a stand-alone operation because it is unattached to any other energy resource such as a battery storage system or power plant. Project officials say the energy from CO Bar Solar will significantly displace the need for carbon-fired resources, especially when the sun is most intense in Arizona.
“Including this project and many other clean-energy resources we are developing, SRP expects nearly 50% of the retail energy we deliver to customers will come from carbon-free resources by 2025,” Petrey explains.
“Clēnera has historically paved the way for renewable energy in the state, and CO Bar Solar is yet another example,” says Jared McKee, vice president of business development for Clēnera, a subsidiary of Enlight Renewable Energy Ltd., Rosh Ha’ayin, Israel. “Not only is this project one of the largest in the state, it is also the largest single power purchase agreement that our company has signed to date.”
CO Bar Solar is expected to generate enough power to meet the needs of 80,000 homes and offset a billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. In addition to the environmental benefits, the project also will bring significant economic benefits to Coconino County, including tax revenue and construction jobs, McKee adds.
Construction is expected to begin in 2023. During the 18-month project timeline, approximately 550 construction jobs will be created, and many of those will go to locals, says Michael Gallego, vice president of construction for Clēnera.
“Special emphasis is taken to ensure the latest technology is used on our projects to maximize engineering efficiency and minimize our physical footprint, while keeping the cost of energy low,” he says.
Including the power from CO Bar Solar, SRP is now at 1,548 MW of contracted energy toward its decarbonization goal of adding 2,025 MW of utility-scale solar by 2025, Petrey says. The longer-term goals are to reduce carbon intensity by 65% in 2035 and by 90% in 2050—both of those targets based on 2005 levels.
This solar capacity includes SRP’s three plants, which are part of its sustainable energy offering (300 MW) and two solar-plus-battery projects (348 MW) as well as the three solar plants the company announced this summer to support Facebook’s new data center in Mesa, Ariz., and SRP’s small-business customers (500 MW). All but one of the plants are in Pinal County, south of Phoenix.