ASU President Crow Doubles Down on Solar at Town Hall


ASU Solar Panels

By Alyssa Williams

Arizona State University’s president, Michael Crow, spoke of different ways the university is working to become a sustainable school during the annual Student Town Hall meeting at the Downtown Phoenix campus on Sept. 29.

“We are not shy to express all of the great things the campus is doing,” Crow said.

Arizona State University reached a milestone in July with a total solar generation capacity of 24 megawatts per hour.

There are a total of 88 solar panel systems on university grounds with 77 on Tempe campus; three on West campus; two on Downtown campus; four on Polytechnic campus; and three at ASU Research Park.

Arizona State University currently holds one of the largest “on-campus university solar-energy portfolios in the nation” according to publication ASU Now. But the university’s role in sustainability has not stopped there.

The university is already in the process of achieving Crow’s goal of net zero energy consumption through their partnership with Arizona Public Service Electric Company on the Red Rock project.

The Red Rock Project, which began earlier this year, is working to turn desert land in Red Rock, Arizona into one of the “largest solar power plants in the state” according to ASU Now.

Karl Edelhoff, the project manager of senior energy innovations, has been working in conjunction with the Arizona Public Service Electric Company on this project.

“We are not putting any money into the construction of this project,” Edelhoff said. “We will be purchasing a solar tower from APS after the completion of the power plant, which will be offered to us at a pretty good rate that has not been disclosed.”

The project will allow ASU to increase by 150 percent the amount of renewable energy it generates per year, which is well over its existing portfolio.

“On average, the project will be saving us six megawatt hours per day,” Edelhoff said.

The project will further Arizona State’s recognition of being a global leader in sustainability.

Arizona State has the largest school of sustainability in the country, and Sean Murray, a master’s student at the School of Sustainability at ASU, said that this project is a great way for the university to use “one of the best sources we have in this region.”

“We receive somewhere between 10-12 hours of direct sunlight in this region daily,” Murray said. “When you look at the total amount of sun hours Phoenix receives, you can see that as a university we can produce more than enough energy, even as a city, that we can then sell some of that surplus energy to surrounding areas and make it an energy market.”

Arizona State does not have the legal power to serve as an energy supplier in a solar market, but the completion of the Red Rock project will extend opportunities to Arizona residents that include: a rise in local construction jobs and an opportunity for new energy capacities.

Jim Piotrowski, the project manager of the Red Rock project and director of solar development at the Arizona Public Service Electric Company declined to be quoted or interviewed until the completion of the project on Dec. 30.

Alyssa Williams is a contributing writer for The Sustainability Review and is currently a student reporter at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication