The Gila River Indian Community signed a project partnership agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers to put solar panels over its canals.
This means the US Army Corps of Engineers will kick off construction on Phase I of the Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project Renewable Energy Pilot south of Phoenix, Arizona.
The pilot is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration and the Bureau of Reclamation to implement solutions for the drought crisis that’s threatening the Colorado River Basin.
The objective is to create clean energy and conserve water in the Tribe’s canal. The Gila River Indian Community is the home of the Akimel O’otham (Pima) and the Pee-Posh (Maricopa) tribes.
The $6.744 million pilot is expected to produce approximately 1 megawatt (MW) of renewable energy to offset energy needs and costs for tribal farmers. Completion is scheduled for 2025.
The first phase will cover around 1,000 feet of the Interstate 10 Level Top canal, and the Community has already begun feasibility and design efforts for Phase II. It hopes to launch Phase II as soon as next month. The Gila River Indian Community has over 150 miles of canal that solar panels could cover.
This is the second US pilot for installing solar panels over canals – Project Nexus is a $20 million pilot in California’s Turlock Irrigation District that launched in October 2022 and is expected to be completed in 2024.
Solar panels over canals, which have already been installed in India, reduce evaporation and minimize water use for power generation.
Photo: “File:Gila River Indian Community, Akimel O’odham, Sacaton, AZ, USA, One Spring Morning – Wildland Firefighter Physical Fitness Pack Test 2011 – panoramio.jpg” by Chris English is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
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