Client EPC Solon Corporation, Developer Tucson Electric Company
Location South Tucson, Arizona
Scope 28-acre, 5 MW PV solar project

Prairie Fire Solar

Project Details

Westwood’s Role

  • Aerial Mapping
  • Civil Engineering, Array Layout, Site Design
  • Environmental; Native Plant Survey, Mitigation
  • Permitting

Overview

Prairie Fire Solar Project is a 28-acre site comprised of 24,000 ground-mounted PV solar modules. This south-facing system generates 5 megawatts of renewable energy to provide power to the south Tucson area.

Westwood provided a suite of design and engineering services to bring the Prairie Fire Solar project to completion. While the site itself was fairly straightforward and conducive to ground-mounted solar racks, the project was not without challenges.

Creative Permitting Solutions

The City of Tucson’s strict permitting regulations demand diligence and responsiveness to keep the project on track. In one such case, a native plant survey was performed in compliance with city and revealed that a number of the plants would be affected by the construction. Regulations required each affected plant to be replaced with three. The obstacle to this requirement was that the site did not have the acreage to sustain the new plantings.

After researching Tucson’s mitigation requirements, Westwood proposed an alternative that, after proposal and acceptance from the city, allowed the undisturbed land, approximately 20 acres, on the site to be placed in a 25 year hold with no future disturbance.  This solution kept the project on track both from timeline and budget standpoints.

Additionally, both a county and city flood control district had jurisdiction over the site and the team was challenged to prevent drainage from flowing into different flood control areas. The team developed a careful grading and drainage design which directed the flow of water to the north away from the county controlled areas.  Rain harvesting was incorporated into to the site to capture rainfall for the watering of new plants.