What does it take to become a Solar Community?

Here’s what Payson Arizona did to become a Solar Community

In July of 2011 the Payson Town Council unanimously voted to enact Resolution #2621.  This resolution stated that the goal for Payson was to have 5% of its owner occupied homes to install solar panels or solar hot water heaters by the year 2015.


The resolution is in support of the Arizona Corporation Commissions adopted standards to require Arizona electric utility companies to produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025.

History of Renewable Energy Installations in Payson

The earliest renewable energy project in Payson was recorded in October 2005 and is the only windmill project recorded in our Town. Our first recorded solar photovoltaic system was completed at the Kline residence in Alpine Village, January 10, 2006.

Paysons First Solar Panel Installation

Since then, there have been 96 additional solar photovoltaic systems, including both residential and commercial, installed in Payson.  The following are the number of installations each year since 2006:

Year     # of Installs

2007              2                                                                                                                                            2008             2                                                                                                                                               2009            24                                                                                                                                                2010            10

2011             29

2012             29

Geothermal installations have progressed at a much slower pace than solar, partially because creative financing arrangements have not yet become available as compared with the leasing plans available for solar voltaic systems. However, there are 16 geothermal systems in operation in Payson. Recently, there has been significantly more interest in geothermal since the rebates by APS are much higher than those for solar installations.

Financial Reasons Why to Go Solar

Raised Home Appraised Values;  The following represents information taken from a June 2, 2012 article that appeared in THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC , ‘Market Watch’. In it, reference is made to ‘G HOMES’ (green retrofitted homes). “A ‘G Home’ at 1242 E. Edgemont Ave. in Phoenix, listed for sale recently at $285,000, received an independent appraisal of $170,000 adding that the appraiser was not told that the home was a ‘G HOME’. In a second appraisal the appraiser was told about the energy-efficiency and design features of the retrofitted home. The second appraisal came in at $290,000. Another ‘G HOME’ was appraised at $185,000, located on a street with no recent sales above $100,000.

Reduced Utility Bills;  Using solar or solar with a geothermal installation have resulted in savings on utility costs of from 50% to 70% and even more. Considering these savings, as well as the value added to the property’s resale value, makes installing solar and/or geothermal an investment opportunity that in most cases provides greater financial returns than are currently available at your local banks and savings institutions.

Environmental Savings

The Kline installation has resulted in a savings to date of 88,500 pounds of greenhouse gasses from being emitted to our atmosphere. Annually that is 12,643 pounds of greenhouse gasses and with a savings of 63% of their cost of utilities from just one Green installation.

The link below, will take you to a photo album of an actual geothermal climate control installation. There are photos showing the marking on the ground where the wells were to be drilled. There are also photos of the drilling of the 3 wells each one being 230 feet deep, where the temperature, year round is approximately 62 degrees. Also there is a picture of the cabinet of the completed system. The pictures towards the end show the removal of the old roof top heating and cooling system. The cost of the Geothermal system was $33,000 and APS gave a 50% rebate, which coupled with Federal and Arizona tax credits made the system financially viable.


Where is the Payson Solar Community effort today

Payson is showing a slow but steady increase in solar photovoltaic Systems.  While we have not increased solar installations at a rate to meet the Towns Solar Community Goal of 5% by 2015,  approximately 1% of Payson homes have a form of solar electricity or solar hot water.  Renewable energy is certainly growing but the statewide effort is often controlled by available rebates provided by APS or SRP as well as the ability of home owners to afford these systems during an economic downturn.

Schools Gone Solar!

A forward thinking School Board entered into a major solar project starting in 2010.  Currently solar arrays are found at Payson High School/Rim Middle School,  Payson Elementary School and the Julia Randall School.  The total production from these installations is 1.454 megawatts.  This solar installation saves the School District a considerable amount of money that can now be used for other operational costs.

The array at the High School is the most impressive with Solar Panels covering the main parking area, and a large array of sun following panels just south of the parking area.

High School Parking Solar Array

High School Sun Tracking Solar Array

Newly Constructed Pine View Manor Retirement Community Solar Effort

In 2012 construction of 20 more new senior apartments and retrofit on 34 units on Clark Road was completed.  Construction was completed using tax credits managed and allocated by the State Housing Authority.  A total of 129.3 kilowatts were added to this low income housing development.  One permit was issued for this construction (1 of the 96 mentioned above), however 54 separate systems were installed.  Covered parking areas were also installed in this project utilizing optimal solar panel alignments.

Pine View Manor Retirement Community

One of the Many New Solar Installations at the Senior Apartments

The Future of Renewable Energy in the Payson Area

Ongoing discussions are currently taking place for Payson to have a 4 year University, and based on current plans, the campus will be so technologically advanced as to have a zero carbon footprint (the first in the country).  The proposal is to build to LEEDS Platinum standards and to nestle the campus buildings within the forested setting.  Students will have central parking areas that will have solar panels on top of the shaded parking areas and geothermal underneath.  No driving will be allowed within the 250 acre campus property.  This campus will be a model for future campuses in the nation.

The emphasis for new construction and to retrofit existing homes with Solar Panels will continue into the future with the implementation of the Ambassador Program.

The Ambassador Program to Encourage Alternative Energy

As part of the Town of Payson’s Solar Community resolution, the Town’s intent is to encourage the growth of renewable energy systems through an Ambassador program. The Ambassadors would be made up of residents that have installed systems and are willing to share their experiences with the public.


About rsingram

Environmental Specialist, Disaster Reservist, Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control, Para-Archeologist
This entry was posted in Alternative Energy, Economics, Education, Environment, Geothermal Energy, Solar Energy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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