Press Release: 06.10.2015

APS, City of Phoenix Brighten up Landfill in Buckeye

Public-Private partnership brings more solar energy to Arizona

In a sun-filled kick-off ceremony today, state and local officials along with representatives from Arizona Public Service and McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. celebrated the completion of construction of the Desert Star Solar Plant. The event marked the inauguration of the ninth solar project to be constructed under APS’s AZ Sun program. When complete this year, AZ Sun will generate enough solar energy to power more than 42,000 homes. Full commercial operations are expected to begin at the plant in July.

“APS has spent 60 years advancing solar technology through innovative programs, research and partnerships like this one with the City of Phoenix,” said Tammy McLeod, APS vice president for resource management. “Desert Star is a wonderful example of the creative successes that can be achieved when solar companies and utilities, and in this case cities, work together toward a common goal of making Arizona a leader in solar energy.”

The project represents the growing trend of collaboration taking place today between government and private industry to efficiently develop more renewable energy choices that meet the changing ways people are using energy. The city of Phoenix is leasing the land to APS, which will own and operate the 10-megawatt plant. Upon completion, the plant will produce enough solar energy to power about 2,500 homes. The project is taking place within the City of Buckeye’s jurisdiction for permitting and plan reviews. McCarthy served as the general contractor for engineering, procurement and construction.

Phoenix has a citywide goal of utilizing 15 percent of renewable energy by 2025. When the Desert Star Solar Plant is completed, the project will bring the city’s percentage goal to more than six percent by end of 2015.

“At the city of Phoenix, we are absolutely committed to leading the way on solar energy,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “By working together with APS and the city of Buckeye to build the Desert Star Solar Plant, we will ensure that Phoenix remains one of top cities for solar in the country.”

The plant consists of more than 50,000 photovoltaic panels mounted on single axis tracker steel frames spread across 118 acres of land located within the city of Phoenix SR-85 Landfill. The eight-month construction project employed nearly 250 workers during its term, with 140 crew and support staff at its peak. By providing on-site training in utility-scale solar construction for workers in pile driving, tracker assembly and panel installation, the Desert Star Solar Plant was instrumental in establishing the foundation for a new skilled labor force in solar construction.

“McCarthy has had the privilege of serving as the EPC contractor on three AZ Sun projects  in recent years, and regularly works with the city of Phoenix to construct important infrastructure projects that provide valuable resources and services to our community,” said Bo Calbert, president of McCarthy’s Southwest Region. “Having the opportunity to participate in this unique collaboration, while providing construction training in a developing industry to our local workforce, has made this one of the most rewarding projects for our team.”

APS’s renewable energy portfolio consists of more than 1.2 gigawatts of electricity, or enough energy to power more than 300,000 homes across Arizona. With Desert Star’s full commercial operation, APS’s solar portfolio alone will contain enough electricity (895 megawatts) to meet the needs of more than 220,000 customers in the APS service territory.

About APS
APS, Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electricity utility, serves nearly 1.2 million customers in 11 of the state’s 15 counties. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the largest principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (NYSE: PNW)

About McCarthy
McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., which recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, is the nation’s 12th largest domestic general contractor (Engineering News-Record, May 2015). The firm has established a reputation for excellence as an EPC solar contractor, ranking it among the Top 25 Utility Solar Contractors in the United States (Solar Power World 2014). To date, McCarthy’s solar team has under-construction or constructed more than 211MW throughout the United States, and continues to expand its presence nationally. McCarthy has offices in Phoenix; Albuquerque; Newport Beach, San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco, Calif.; Las Vegas; Dallas and Houston; St. Louis; Collinsville, Ill.; Kansas City, Kan. and Atlanta. McCarthy is 100 percent employee-owned. More information is available at

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