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.
“Visitors to Arizona’s most recognizable feature, the Grand Canyon, will now have the opportunity to enjoy the state's second most recognizable feature, sunshine,” said Barbara Lockwood, APS’ Manager of Renewable Energy. “The value of this system goes beyond the economic savings realized at the Center. It is an educational tool, as well as a way to increase Arizona’s visibility as a leader in solar energy.”
The Visitor Center, which opened in 2000, is located at the Canyon View Information Plaza. As the first stop for many visitors to the Canyon’s south rim, the Center is planning future renovations, including new interpretive exhibits and a theater which will show a newly produced orientation film. The Center's parking is also being expanded to accommodate more private vehicles and tour buses.
“Grand Canyon National Park is very excited to partner with APS on this project, as it echoes the park’s commitment to protecting the environment through the use renewable energy sources to power park facilities,” said Judy Bryan, Grand Canyon’s Chief of Interpretation.
APS, Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electricity utility, serves about 1.1 million customers in 11 of the state’s 15 counties. In 2008, APS won its second Edison Award in recognition of innovative leadership and operational excellence in the electric industry. Given annually by the Edison Electric Institute, the Edison Award is considered the industry’s most prestigious honor. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (NYSE: PNW)