Solar Carports at Phoenix VA Medical Center Go Online -- For Real, This Time

Categories: Solar Energy

va-solar-satellite.jpg
What was billed as the nation's largest solar-powered carport system is finally online at the Phoenix VA Health Care Center in Phoenix after a year-and-a-half delay.

As New Times learned in August, news articles and press releases in 2011 announcing the $20 million project's near-completion had been premature.

The panel-covered carports may look neat, but until this week most of them were essentially idle, absorbing sunlight but not transmitting electricity.

See also:
- Phoenix VA Hospital's Solar Project Still Not Online; Was to be Finished Early 2012

News articles and press releases in April 2011 announced that the initial 640-kilowatt phase of the federally funded project had been completed, while the larger, 3.81-megawatt second phase was expected to be finished in early 2012.

Though the carports have been producing shade the whole time, only the first phase had been producing usable electricity.

SunWize, a U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese company, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., built the carports and topped them with more than 18,000 Samsung and Sanyo panels. Following the public announcements, though, which included a prominent article in the Arizona Republic, the VA received more federal funding to upgrade its electrical infrastructure, and officials figured it'd be cheaper to keep the solar panels unplugged until the completion of the upgrade project.

VA officials told New Times in August that everything was on schedule to be turned on within two weeks. Still, for the federal government, three months instead of two weeks is actually pretty good.

"I can confirm that they're running," VA spokesman Scott McRoberts said on Wednesday. "Everything's running as designed."

Back in 2011, VA officials said the project would save $375,000 a year in electricity costs for the center. While it's true that means the project would take 53 years to recoup the $20 million investment, much of the cost was simply to provide the structures to cover about 1,600 parking spaces. Who could deny our state's veterans a decently shaded parking spot in the summer?

According to SunWize's website, the 4.45-megawatt-capacity project will generate about seven million kilowatt-hours of energy each year.

How much energy is that? By our calculator, it's the roughly the juice needed to propel nearly 1,200 Teslas about 20,000 miles per year.

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.


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11 comments
Nick A Thomas
Nick A Thomas

At the base price of $62,400, including the $7,500 Federal Tax Credit, Model S comes equipped with a 60 kWh battery, 19” wheels, black textile and synthetic leather interior, 17” touchscreen, seven speaker sound system with AM/FM/HD radio, mobile connector, and a J1772 charging adapter. http://www.teslamotors.com/models/facts

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

foreign solar panels at our veteran's hospital, made in japan and china, how inappropriate. dont flip out when APS starts taxing us for using the sun because of fuckin obama supporting mutha fuckaz and their blind following of the new messiah of the modern world. plug the vets into the grid too, just like on the matrix.

Andrew Hare
Andrew Hare

About time, they've been in place for years...I frequent that hang out spot.

Phillip Robertson
Phillip Robertson

How much is this going to cost in extra fees to APS!? How many more state and federal buildings are they going to push solar on and then TAX it at a higher rate, then sell the power at almost 4 times the rate!?

jaacson
jaacson

Great point, 20 million so veterans aren't denied shaded parking...meanwhile that 20 million could have covered the funding for at least 50 claims processors over the project's completion time. Or could have been used for psychiatric help to reduce the months long wait for care. 

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

$20 million into this while a veteran can wait a month to begin therapy with a psychiatrist. Meanwhile, Obama pins metals on Oprah and Bill Clinton.

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

Meanwhile, 22 veterans kill themselves everyday. Maybe they should have signed up for Obamacare.

1959cutter
1959cutter

@jonnyquest sounds like your projecting again johnny!

get over the fact your dad is a homosexual scientist with a hovercraft!

Obama isn't to blame for the death of 4000 American troops in Iraq,that is squarly on cheny/bush.

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

Bush/Cheney were lying bastards that grew the authoritarian surveilence state while serving the military industrial complex. Obama/Biden are lying bastards that are growing the authoritarian surveilence state while serving the military industrial complex. As for my Dad, you've been saying that ever since he caught you sniffing Bandit's ass, you fucking pervert.

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