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Published on April 13, 2024
Harquahala Valley to Host $1.2 Billion Solar Project Near Phoenix, With Big Plans for Renewable Energy and Water Rights SalesSource: Unsplash/ Zbynek Burival

In a significant step toward harnessing renewable energy in Arizona, a sprawling solar project is set to emerge in the Harquahala Valley, about 60 miles west of Phoenix. The $1.2 billion initiative is the brainchild of Utah-based Copia Power and is financially bolstered by the Carlyle Group, as ABC 15 reports. Beyond the production of renewable energy, a notable twist to the tale includes negotiations for selling off the water rights beneath the solar panels.

Garret Bean, of Copia Power has delineated plans for more than 1,500 megawatts of additional renewable energy projects in the region. This ambitious initiative spans 14,000 acres of what will become a green energy campus, while adjacent landowners, hold options for a further 6,000 acres of solar developments, explained Carson Brown, a participating landowner, in a statement obtained by the Business Journal. The investors' strategy reaches beyond immediate gains, eyeing potential deals for the surplus 4,000 acres still available.

Construction of the first two phases, Harquahala Sun I and Sun II, is set to conclude in early 2025 and is expected to churn out 450 megawatts each year. These segments will feature a substantial energy storage system capable of 300 megawatts/1200 MWh, according to the Business Journal. The construction process, involving San Diego-based SOLV Energy, will inject over 700 jobs into the community, a figure projected to stay steady through the project's various development stages.

Decorating the financial framework of this solar enterprise is a noteworthy $1.2 billion loan package arranged by prominent banking entities, including Crédit Agricole CIB and BNP Paribas. The deal stands as one of the trailblazers navigating the Inflation Reduction Act's tax credit transfer provisions, offering flexibility previously uncharted in the financial structuring of renewable energy projects. With Harquahala's solar capacity expected to skyrocket to 2,000 MW, the project is gearing up to supply electricity to upwards of half a million homes, according to statements from Copia Power's Bean.

Amidst this surge in solar development, parallel discussions are unfolding regarding the fate of the valley's underlying water supply. Queen Creek and Buckeye, areas currently experiencing sharp growth, are in the bidding to procure this essential resource. As per the Business Journal, Queen Creek's assistant town manager, Paul Gardner, has disclosed that the town is on the cusp of submitting an application for transporting a significant volume of water over the forthcoming century. A similar move by the city of Buckeye aims to lay claim to a sizable share of Harquahala's water to fuel its development for years to come.

Meanwhile, the local landowners anticipate the land stewardship transition from traditional farming to solar power generation will drive investment, infrastructure, and, jobs forecasting a substantial impact on Arizona's growth and sustainability, as emphasized by Copia Power's Bean.