Solar Project

EPA recognizes Tucson Unified School District for leading green power use

With nearly 200 days of sunshine every year it makes sense to use the rays of the sun to power up in the Old Pueblo. Tucson Unified School District is now being recognized by its efforts to go green by the Environmental Protection Agency. On Wednesday, October 20, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented Stuart Duncan, TUSD's Chief Operations Officer, with the 2015 Green Power Leadership Award for the category of "Green Power Partner of the Year." Learn more >>

Videos and presentation provide information about solar installations

At the Governing Board meeting on Tuesday, December 9, 2014, TUSD's partners in the solar project delivered the following presentation, including the three videos below, to address questions posed by parents and neighbors.

In addition, we've created the following question and answer sheet (available in PDF).

Solar Project Questions and Answers | Preguntas y Respuestas sobre el Proyecto Solar

Board Meeting Presentation (in PDF)

Solar Project Update - Ball Demonstration

Solar Project Update: Interview with Principal Loya

TUSD to save money, protect the planet in groundbreaking solar project

In one of the largest project of its kind locally, Tucson Unified School District is harnessing the power of the sun and bringing solar energy to more than 40 of our schools, providing significant cost savings to taxpayers.

The project represents our commitment to using renewable energy and reducing our carbon footprint while saving money. The district will serve as a model of good stewardship to other districts and our students.

Photo of solar panels on shade structure

Solar panels provide shade in playground.

The 18-month project is expected to save TUSD approximately $170,000 in the first year and more than $11 million in energy costs over the 20-year life of the 11-megawatt project.

Over 19,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be averted from local power plants in the project's first full year of operation, along with 23.5 tons of nitrous oxides.

Phased construction began withthe first group of schools in the first quarter of 2014. See the news story, "Ground broken on first solar-power installation," for information about the start of construction and "TUSD celebrates completion of solar structure installation at ribbon-cutting" for information about the first solar structure installation, at Marshall Elementary.

As an added benefit, the majority of the 38,000 solar panels will be placed over playgrounds to provide shading.

Bringing solar to schools provides students with an up-close view of alternative energy at work. TUSD expects to incorporate an educational component, with the goal of encouraging students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM. Students can calculate how many trees are being saved with the use of solar energy in their school, among other lessons.

Photo of solar panels on shade structure

Solar panels produce electricity even on cloudy days.

TUSD plans to enter into a Solar Services Agreement (SSA) that provides for the construction and operation of the solar power systems. About 80 percent of electricity required at each site is expected to be produced by the systems.

The district competitively selected Natural Power and Energy, one of Arizona's leading solar companies, to oversee construction and financing of the SSA, under which TUSD will purchase energy from the solar systems at a fixed rate over 20 years.

Natural Power and Energy was selected based on the company's experience in working on large solar projects, and the project's ability to save the district money.

Photo of solar panels on shade structure