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Maricopa County P&Z Reviews 3 Solar Projects

Aerial view of Maricopa Solar and Storage site. Credit: Maricopa County

By Tasha Anderson for AZBEX 

Solar was the hot topic at Maricopa County’s November 5th Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, as three separate solar generating facility projects were on the agenda. 

Each applicant, Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc., Sun Streams Expansion, LLC, and Candela Renewables LLC was requesting major comprehensive plan amendments to change the land use designations in their proposed areas from Rural and/or Residential to Utilities. 

The projects, otherwise known as the Maricopa Solar and Storage Project, the Sun Streams Expansion Solar Project and the Vulcan Solar Project, are all located approximately 40-50 miles west of downtown Phoenix. According to the project documents, “The region is characterized by undeveloped desert areas, agriculture and sparse rural residential development,” and houses existing power generating stations like Palo Verde, Harquahala, Mesquite and the Redhawk Power Plant. “The proposed projects may be able to take advantage of existing power transmission infrastructure.” 

Maricopa Solar and Storage Project 

The Maricopa Solar and Storage Project will span 11,260 acres and will be located between Interstate 10 to the north, Broadway Road to the south, 523rd Avenue to the west and 491st Avenue to the east. The site is composed of 87 separate, mostly private parcels that are currently used for row crop cultivation. 

The project will consist of a utility-scale solar photovoltaic generating facility comprising up to 550MW of electricity along with battery storage. The facility is expected to be constructed in up to five phases with 18-24 months on construction per phase. 

Ellwood Land Holdings is the owner for the Maricopa Solar and Storage Project and Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc. is the project engineer.  

Sun Streams Expansion Solar Project 

The Sun Streams Expansion Solar Project will be located between 323rd Avenue to the east, 351st Avenue to the west, Union Pacific Railroad to the south and Southern Avenue to the north and will span approximately 3,221 acres. 

“The site is comprised of approximately 2,597 acres of contiguous ASLD land,” the documents state. “The remainder of the site is comprised of six private contiguous parcels comprising approximately 624 acres.” 

The project will be an expansion of the existing Sun Streams plant and will consist of a 385MW utility-scale solar generating and battery storage facility, which is expected to supply enough energy to about 92,000 homes. The expansion will be located to the east of the current plant and is expected to have a 30-year lifespan. 

Construction is expected to take two years and will be completed in a single phase. 

Sun Streams Expansion, LLC (First Solar) is the developer for this project. 

Vulcan Solar Project 

Developer, Candela Renewables, LLC is proposing to develop the Vulcan Solar Project on approximately 2,357 acres between the Arlington Canal Service Road alignment to the east, 333rd Avenue to the west, Arlington Canal Road to the south and the Union Pacific Railroad to the north.  

The site composes about 2,261 acres of ASLD land and, “three private contiguous parcels comprising approximately 96 acres.” 

Vulcan Solar is proposed as a 250MW utility-scale solar generating and battery storage facility that would interconnect from the substation to the APS Hassayampa Switchyard via a 115-500 kilovolt generation-tie. 

Construction on this project is expected to begin in 2022 and be completed by late 2023. 

According to the documents, because of the size of each of the subject properties, “The applicants will subsequently be required to obtain a Zone Change with Overlay (including a precise Plan of Development) to IND-2 IUPD as part of the entitlement process.” 

The projects are scheduled to go before the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, December 9th. Requests for the general contractors on all three projects were not returned by press time. 

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