Welcome to the Arizona Solar Challenge Tumblr! We're your source for the latest updates about our work to put solar on 5% of homes in your community by the year 2015. We'll regularly feature photos, news clips and profiles of Solar Ambassadors from across the state. Learn more at the Arizona SmartPower website.

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, residents and community leaders will gather at City Hall to celebrate Buckeye’s designation as an official “Arizona Solar Community.” Official town signs will be presented at the event and later placed throughout the City.


WHAT: Buckeye Solar Celebration

WHEN: Tuesday, Sept. 25, 10 a.m.

WHERE: Buckeye City Hall 530 East Monroe Avenue Buckeye, AZ 85326

WHO: Mayor Jackie Meck, Representatives from Arizona SmartPower and APS, Buckeye residents

Buckeye quickly reached the 5 percent goal of the Arizona Solar Challenge and is now an official Arizona Solar Community, with an impressive 8.6 percent installs already achieved by 2012, well before the 2015 deadline.

ABOVE: Buckeye Solar Ambassadors gathered back in October 2011 to brainstorm ways to help the town reach its 5 percent goal, playing a huge part in helping Buckeye soar past this goal. 

Arizona Public Service is investing in the development of 200 MW of solar power plants across the state. This announcement comes after APS has seen astounding success with the Arizona Solar Challenge — a program to help owner-occupied homes achieve more than 5 percent solar by 2015.

Clearly, solar makes sense for Arizona. More than 5 of the Arizona Solar Challenge's 14 towns have already surpassed the program's 5 percent goal. An official Arizona Solar Community sign was just installed in two locations in Goodyear, where Mayor Georgia Lord could not have been more proud to see residents reaping the benefits of a wise, clean investment.

But homeowners aren’t the only ones seeing the potential to reap the benefits of a bright investment.

APS just announced a Request for Proposal (RFP) from solar developers and installers to construct a 32-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic facility in Gila Bend, Ariz. This project will be financed by APS through the company’s AZ Sun Program and and is expected to provide electricity to more than 8,000 Arizona homes. And create more than 2,000 local jobs, just in construction.

The potential for solar in Arizona is endless. While other less sunny states might not see the same rate of growth, they can certainly learn from the wise investments and important roles that utilities can play, as demonstrated by the Arizona Solar Challenge and this new AZ Sun Program.

Dozens of Goodyear residents, including Mayor Georgia Lord, turned out to City Hall on Wednesday, July 18, to celebrate the installment of Goodyear’s official “Arizona Solar Community” sign — the first in the state.

Just two years ago, Goodyear signed on to participate in the Arizona Solar Challenge, a program organized by the nonprofit Arizona SmartPower, which set a goal of achieving solar on at least 5 percent of owner-occupied homes by 2015. Goodyear has already achieved more than 10 percent, becoming a true leader in clean energy. 

Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord could not have been more proud to help present the official solar sign to residents, saying that SmartPower’s “grassroots effort led to 1,368 total solar installs in Goodyear,” a number that will make a real difference in the town’s sustainable future, and in its local economy. 

"With Goodyear’s leadership, we are cracking the code on how to get solar on rooftops in Arizona and beyond," said Brian F. Keane, president of SmartPower.

Goodyear’s official Arizona Solar Community sign will be featured in two prominent locations — one on Litchfield Road and another on Pebble Creek Parkway. 

SOLAR HOT SHOTS: Toni Bouchard was in the company of Steven Chu, Secretary the U.S. Department of Energy, who addressed more than 600 of the brightest minds in the solar energy industry at the June 13 summit.

SmartPower Vice President Toni Bouchard was invited to attend The SunShot Grand Challenge: Summit and Technology Forum in Denver, Colorado, on June 13. Energy Secretary Steven Chu was present at the event, touting the recent progress in driving down solar costs.

Arizona SmartPower’s leadership in the Arizona Rooftop Solar Challenge program is an essential component of the master solar plan designed to achieve the Energy Secretary’s goals. The Challenge is launching efforts to reduce barriers and lower costs for rooftop solar systems in Arizona by streamlining permitting processes and cutting through the red tape.

The SmartPower team is excited to be a part of the greater national effort to put solar on rooftops across the country, and the Denver conference showed that, more than ever, the future is bright!

Goodyear homeowners Mike and Cher Zeman recently moved to Arizona and witnessed the widespread adoption of solar on homes in their PebbleCreek neighborhood. They began asking neighbors about their experiences with solar and soon they were hearing all about the good savings that could be achieved. But when they asked questions about purchasing and installation, they were overwhelmed. Every homeowner was telling a different story and sharing different advice, but the one suggestion that they heard from all of their neighbors was that they needed to talk with a Solar Coach.

Mike and Cher called Arizona SmartPower to speak with Solar Coach Dru Bacon. In the ensuing conversation, they mentioned that they had several neighbors who had also recently moved into their immediate neighborhood who had questions about solar. Mike and Cher invited nineteen homeowners to attend a meeting in the Zeman’s living room, where Solar Coach Dru gave a brief background about SmartPower and the Arizona Solar Challenge. After a discussion of how solar energy works, homeowners began asking questions. And Dru had the answers.

Since that meeting, Dru has continued to work with the PebbleCreek homeowners to address their concerns and provide solutions.

Solar energy is new to most homeowners and can be an intimidating process when trying to integrate all the variables that impact the best solar solution for each home. Such things as electricity usage, roof space, roof azimuth, rate plan, pattern of usage and other factors all have important impacts on determining the optimum solar system. The process is further complicated by the question of whether to buy or lease a solar system. Fortunately, the Solar Coach is there to sort it all out.

Please contact Solar Coach Dru Bacon at dbacon[at] with your solar questions.

"When I was looking to go solar I felt caught in the middle of various solar companies, all wanting me to buy, but with Dru’s help and expertise, I went ahead and chose a PV system feeling confident in my decision based on his ‘brass tacks’ real world knowledge. 

With Dru’s help, I feel I made a much more informed decision than I would have otherwise. I would highly recommend that anyone looking to go solar take the time to get Dru’s invaluable input as a Solar Coach.”

- David Snyder, Scottsdale, Arizona

ABOVE: Solar Coach Dru Bacon retreats to the shade to talk the hot topic of solar with local residents at Green Cave Creek’s Earth Day Event.

Arizona SmartPower and residents of Anthem and Cave Creek celebrated Earth Day in record-breaking heat this year.

State Director Toni Bouchard and the Policy Development Group’s Betsy Ware talked with Anthem residents interested in going solar at the Anthem Goes Green event on Saturday, April 21, where several residents signed up for SmartPower’s Solar Coaching services. Meanwhile, Toni had a chance to chat with several local Solar Ambassadors about their ideas to spread residential solar in Anthem and beyond.

In Cave Creek, Solar Coach Dru Bacon, along with the Policy Development Group’s Andy Jacobs and Todd Baughman, celebrated Green Cave Creek, talking to more residents interested in solar. Dru gave a short solar workshop which, along with the 100+ temperatures, motivated folks to begin to think about solar as a sustainable way of coping with summer cooling bills! Many people signed up for follow-up conversations with Dru about going solar.

Green Cave Creek intends to make the event an annual Earth Day Celebration and Arizona SmartPower plans to participate again in the future. We expect solar to be an even hotter topic during next year’s Earth Day events! 

More than 20 people attended the April 10 Electric Vehicle Policy Working Group meeting, hosted by ASU at the Global Institute for Sustainability. State Director Toni Bouchard led a brainstorming discussion on policies including ordinance language available for adoption by municipalities to have the authority to enforce electric vehicle charging/parking; the potential for Homeowner Associations to make it difficult to install charging equipment at residents’ homes; and policies being discussed at the federal level that could be adopted by the state to allow electric charging stations to be included in energy performance contracting by state agencies, municipalities and school districts.  

The next EVAZ Stakeholder meeting is May 7 from 2-4 pm at the Salt River Project. Please RSVP to if you would like to attend.  

ABOVE: The EVAZ Policy Working Group gathered on April 10 to discuss potential policy ideas that would advance electric vehicle adoption in Arizona.

Please join the Arizona SmartPower team at this Green Cave Creek event on Earth Day 2012 to learn more about solar. Solar Coach Dru Bacon will be speaking at 11am and 1pm, so be sure to come by then!