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Nation’s Largest Solar Farm Being Considered for Northern Arizona

Solar energy developer and operator Clēnera and Babbitt Ranches are exploring the feasibility of a 3,500- to 7,000-acre solar farm on the CO Bar Ranch about 30 miles northwest of Flagstaff.

The field of solar photovoltaic panels would be the largest such operation in the country, with a capacity of 400 to 1,000 MW, enough to power 90,000 to 230,000 homes, depending on the completed size of the project.

Clēnera Director of Business Development Jared McKee says the company has submitted for an interconnection transmission study with APS to find out if the nearby high-voltage line has room to carry the additional electricity. “We believe there’s a strong likelihood of capacity on the line.”

The company also will perform environmental studies, go through the permitting process and seek a buyer for the renewable energy and associated attributes from the project.

McKee says Clēnera develops solar energy facilities in partnership with landowners and aligns with companies that hold similar values. “We intend to own and operate this project for 30 to 35 years, so it’s very important that we are working with people who want to conserve the environment for generations to come. One of the things that attracted us to Babbitt Ranches is the history of the Babbitt Brothers, what they brought to Northern Arizona and what the company continues to bring as part of the fabric of the community. We also have a great deal of respect for what the Babbitts’ Landsward Foundation does to promote science and education.”

He added that the vast amount of open land makes the area highly desirable for a solar farm, as well as the abundance of sunshine in the high desert climate. “The site is located at 6,250 feet and is one of the sunniest places in the country,” he said. “Higher elevations and cooler temperatures increase the output of photovoltaic modules and increase the efficiency of the plant; extensive heat will reduce the production of a solar system.”

“The prospect of a large-scale solar farm is an exciting business opportunity for Babbitt Ranches,” said Babbitt Ranches President and General Manager Billy Cordasco. “We look forward to participating with Clēnera, promoting mutual values and supporting renewable energy efforts.”

Clēnera was founded in 2013 and currently has 16 solar projects built across eight states: California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Indiana, Alabama and Arizona. They produce, on average, 20 to 200 MW.

McKee says the development of the Northern Arizona solar farm is projected to create up to 600 temporary construction jobs and five to 10 permanent, full-time jobs.

“Clēnera has very strong ties to Arizona. Our founder’s family is from Arizona and our company was formed here,” he said. “We truly believe the future is great for renewable energy in Arizona and we are very excited to partner with the Babbitts to bring a large-scale solar farm to the state.” FBN

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