Tucson, Ariz. – A flock of fluffy, four-legged field workers has arrived at a local Tucson Electric Power (TEP) solar array to keep the weeds trimmed so that the panels can continue producing clean energy for customers.
About 25 sheep are now living (and working) at the Prairie Fire Solar Array, located near South Kolb and East Valencia roads. TEP owns and operates the 5 megawatt (MW) facility, which was built in 2012 and includes more than 17,600 fixed photovoltaic panels. The array produces enough solar energy to power more than 1,000 homes every year.
Desert brush and weeds can grow high enough to block the sun and inhibit solar power production. Instead of using lawn mowers, sprays or weed trimmers, the sheep will eat vegetation that grows beneath and around the solar panels. The sheep provide a cost effective way to maintain the site while preserving the surrounding environment.
The flock will be managed by Southwest Lambscaping. The company also manages a flock of sheep at Red Horse Solar, a 51-megawatt solar array near Willcox, Ariz. that produces power for TEP customers. Sheep from that site are featured in TEP print advertisements and a recent television commercial called “Down on the Solar Farm.”
Members of the news media are invited to visit the Prairie Fire array on Monday, March 18 at 10 a.m. The facility entrance is located on the 8300 block of East Valencia Road.
TEP owns and buys power from efficient community-scale renewable systems with a combined capacity of more than 325 MW. By 2030, TEP plans to have three times as much wind and solar energy as today. Those systems will produce enough energy to serve the annual electric needs of about 350,000 homes – nearly every home in Tucson. More information about TEP’s renewable energy plan is available at tep.com/renewable-goals.
TEP provides safe, reliable and affordable electric service to approximately 425,000 customers in Southern Arizona. For more information, visit tep.com. TEP and its parent company, UNS Energy, are subsidiaries of Fortis Inc., which owns utilities that serve more than 3 million customers across Canada and in the United States and the Caribbean. To learn more, visit fortisinc.com.
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