Grand Canyon Goes Solar

The Grand Canyon's Visitor Center, located near the Canyon's south rim, will soon have a portion of its energy provided by the sun.

Eighty-four photovoltaic solar panels are scheduled for installation on and around the Visitor Center, providing the building with approximately 18 kilowatts of electricity. The panels, which should be operational in March 2009, will provide enough electricity to offset 30 percent of the Center's electricity use.

Located both on the Center's roof and on ground-mounted platforms adjacent to the building, the panels will not only provide needed electricity but will also serve as a unique educational opportunity for the more than 4.5 million people who visit the Canyon each year.

An exhibit inside the Center and signage next to the platform-mounted panels will inform visitors about the mechanics of solar energy, Arizona's abundant sunshine's ability to make the state the solar capital of the world, and how they, themselves can help increase the amount of electricity generated by the sun. As part of the exhibit, a live monitor will allow visitors to watch in real-time, how much electricity the sun is generating for the Center.

Funding of the panels and installation comes from APS customers through APS' Green Rates and the Arizona Corporation Commission's Renewable Energy Standard. APS selected the Grand Canyon for donation of this system because of the ability to educate so many people about solar energy.

APS, Arizona's largest and longest-serving electricity utility, serves about 1.1 million customers in 11 of the state's 15 counties.