Arizona Public Service (APS) contracted with First Solar to design and build the 17 MW Paloma Solar Plant, a photovoltaic facility in Gila Bend, Ariz. APS will own the plant, which is expected to come online in September 2011.

Paloma is one of five solar plants currently under development in APS’s AZ Sun program. Through the program, APS will finance and own 100 MW of solar photovoltaic power plants in Arizona. Once completed, the program is expected to have at least six plants designed and constructed by third-party solar developers, contractors and equipment providers. The AZ Sun Program has commitments for 83 MW of solar capacity. The program is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

APS’s total renewable energy portfolio is 875 MW, counting projects online and in development. Of that total, 288 MW are in service.

The Paloma plant will be built on the site of a former alfalfa farm. The facility will use 300,000 thin-film photovoltaic panels mounted on fixed-tilt steel frames. It is the first time thin-film panels will be used for an APS solar plant.

Gila Bend is also home to Solana, a concentrating solar plant being built by Abengoa Solar. APS has a contract to buy all of Solana’s generation beginning in 2013.

Read more news and features on renewable energy.