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Grand Canyon Goes Solar

Although Grand Canyon hikers may believe that the Grand Canyon has been solar-powered for eons, the fact is the Grand Canyon National Park has “gone solar” just recently.

Eighty-four photovoltaic solar panels are now operational on the Grand Canyon Visitor Center located at the Canyon View Information Plaza near the south rim.

Located both on the Visitor Center’s roof and on ground-mounted platforms adjacent to the building, the panels will be seen by the more than 4.5 million people who visit the Canyon each year. As the first stop for many visitors to the Canyon’s south rim, the Center offers hiking trail maps, informational panoramas to orient hikers and visitors to the area and hiking safety advice.

“A great partnership was created when Grand Canyon National Park and APS came together for this project,” said Steve Martin, Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent. “This solar installation is a shining example of the park’s commitment to protecting the environment through the use of renewable energy. The Visitor Center is the perfect location, making the panels visible to all guests providing an opportunity to educate and inspire.”

An exhibit inside the Center and signage next to the platform-mounted panels inform Grand Canyon hikers and 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 displays in real-time how much electricity the sun is generating for the Center.

The solar panels provide the building with approximately 18 kilowatts of electricity. The panels provide enough energy to offset 30% of electricity used by the Visitor Center.

“This project is symbolic of the commitment we have at APS to environmental protection, sustainability and to make Arizona the solar capital of the world,” APS President and Chief Operating Officer Don Robinson said today at a celebration event hosted by the National Park Service. “We selected the Grand Canyon for this project because of the opportunity that exists there to educate so many people from around the world about renewable energy.”

Funding for the panels and their installation came from APS customers through APS’ Green Rates and the Arizona Corporation Commission’s Renewable Energy Standard.