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Tempe ready to flip the switch on huge solar array

Officials maneuver the final solar panel into place. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The final panel of Tempe's largest solar project was put in place on Friday.

The solar panels will provide electricity to Tempe's South Water Treatment Plant.

"These 3,000 solar panels will produce 1.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year," said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell. "That's enough to power 160 households in the city of Tempe. For our South Water Treatment plant, it means that these solar panels will also be supplying 15 percent of the electricity for this plant."

They'll also be saving the city a lot of money.

"The city expects to save more than $25,500 in utility costs in just the first year alone," Mitchell said. "In over 20 years timeframe, we're expected to save over $2.3 million dollars, and that's remarkable."

The city worked with Salt River Project and Solar City on the project for the last two years.

Tempe is planning future solar projects. One is a 900-kilowatt facility at the Johnny G. Martinez Water Treatment Plant. The other is a 250-kilowatt facility at the Police and Courts building in downtown Tempe.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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