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Pinnacle West Capital Corporation (PNW - Analyst Report) announced that its principal business division Arizona Public Service (“APS”) employed Black & Vetch to design and construct a new solar photovoltaic facility.

The 32-megawatt ("MW") complex will be built on an area covering 400 acres in the Gila Bend Township, AZ. The Gila Bend Solar Plant is part of the company’s premier AZ Sun Program, which came into effect from 2010. Since then APS has engaged in a total of six solar projects under the AZ Sun program.  It includes a mix of power purchase deals, ownership of utility facilities and customer rooftop installations.

The Gila Bend facility brings the count to seven. Construction work on the plant is expected to commence in Oct 2013 and is projected to be completed by Jun 2014. The solar plant will comprise over 170,000 single-axis tracker polycrystalline modules, which are cost-effective in nature.

The amount of energy generated from the solar modules is sufficient to power around 8,000 customers in Arizona. Further, the single-axis tracker feature allows the solar panels to follow the sun as it moves across the sky.

The Gila Blend plant will be a valuable addition to the company’s diverse renewable portfolio. It will provide an impetus to APS’ impressive 2013 solar plan announced recently. This involves bringing online two plants – the 35 MW Foothills Solar Plant and the 14 MW Hyder II Solar Power Plant in Yuma County. Also, the company signed an agreemnet to purchase power for 30 years from Abengoa Solar's large-scale 250-MW Solana Generating station.  .

We believe these strategic endeavors will reestablish APS’s position as a front runner in the renewable service business in Arizona. In addition, the economical steps taken in terms of using less expensive modules will help keep costs under control. This will aid in customer retention as well as attract new customers. The scorching weather in southwestern Arizona will also boost the generation of solar energy.

APS at present operates 86 MW of Solar farms and has 64 MW of construction underway. Pinnacle West is bound to gain from the renewable bandwagon in the U.S. The company as of now carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Other utility stocks performing better and worth a look are Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. (BIP - Snapshot Report), Pike Electric Corp (PIKE - Snapshot Report) and Empresa Nacional Electricidad SA (EOC - Snapshot Report), all carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Based in Phoenix, AZ, Pinnacle West, along with its subsidiaries, offers retail and wholesale electric services primarily in the state of Arizona.

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