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  • Grand Canyon Goes Solar
Jan 2009
PHOENIX, Jan. 7, 2009 – The Grand Canyon’s Visitor Center, located near the Canyon’s south rim, soon will have a portion of its energy provided by the sun.

Eighty-four photovoltaic (PV) solar panels installed on and around the Visitor Center will provide the building with approximately 18 kW of electricity. Scheduled to be operational in March, the panels will provide enough electricity to offset 30 percent of the center’s electricity use.


Eighty-four photovoltaic solar panels providing approximately 18 kW of electricity are scheduled for installation on and near the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Images courtesy of APS.

Located on the center’s roof and on ground-mounted platforms adjacent to the building, the panels not only will generate needed electricity but also will provide 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 panels outdoors will inform visitors about the mechanics of solar energy and about Arizona’s potential to become the model state for solar power production. Visitors also can learn how they themselves can increase the amount of electricity generated by the sun. As part of the exhibit, a monitor will allow visitors to watch in real time how much electricity the sun is producing for the center.

Funding for the panels and for their installation is from Arizona Public Service (APS) customers through the company's “green rates,” and through the Arizona Corporation Commission’s Renewable Energy Standard. APS donated the system to the center because of the facility’s 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, manager of renewable energy for APS. “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.” GrandCanyonSolar2.jpg

Installed on the Visitor Center’s roof as well as on ground-mounted platforms adjacent to the building, the panels not only will provide needed electricity but also will serve as an educational opportunity for the more than 4.5 million people who visit the Canyon each year.

The Visitor Center, which opened in 2000, is at the Canyon View Information Plaza. A first stop for many visitors to the Canyon’s south rim, the center is planning future renovations, including updated interpretive exhibits and a theater that will show a newly produced orientation film. The center’s parking also is being expanded to accommodate more tour buses and private vehicles.

“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 of 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. Given annually by the Edison Electric Institute, the award is considered the industry’s most prestigious honor. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp.

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The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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