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An artist rendering of what the solar carport will be looking like throughout the housing complex.

The Lonely Cactus Solar Panel Project

By Richie Corrales
Au-Authm Action News

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Lonely Cactus housing subdivision, consisting of apartments for seniors and those with disabilities, will be the first in the Community to have solar panels installed, on new covered parking structures. The project already has begun and will take roughly one month to complete. Community-member-owned business Maydall Construction is the vendor for the project.

Currently, the Housing Division helps pay electricity and water bills for the residents here. This added benefit of covered parking with solar panels on top will help with energy savings; through the use of solar-generated energy, the Community expects the power bill to be cut by 65 percent.

The SRPMIC is one of eight Native American tribal communities to receive grant funding to install solar or wind power. In 2012, the Housing Division applied for a grant administered through the Arizona Renewable Energy Investment Fund to fund the construction of renewable-energy systems in Native American communities.

Tim Rangel, construction manager with SRPMIC Engineering and Construction Services, said the Lonely Cactus project is something new for the Community and for ECS.

“This [solar panel project] is the first of its kind out in the tribe. We are looking at it as an experimental project to see how it goes, and hopefully [it will] balloon into something the tribe will be using more often,” said Rangel.
He explained that the location was perfect because traffic is not that busy in the area of Lonely Cactus.

“In the solar-project world, this is a small project, and we want to see how everything is going to be put together, how fast [it is completed], and just the whole assembly line,” said Rangel.

Staff from the SRPMIC Public Works Department and ECS are assisting Maydall Construction.

When Community staff met with residents of Lonely Cactus to discuss the project, many of them had concerns about when construction would take place, as well as what to do if something breaks with the solar panels. The panels are made out of a hard and durable material, and if they were to break, the staff in the Community would be able to fix them.

The parking carports will stand 8 feet high and will be placed around the current parking lots for the subdivision.

For more information about the project, please call ECS at (480) 362-7900.

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