SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has inaugurated a new 250-kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) power system donated by First Solar Inc., which will help power the historic Taliesin West campus. The commissioning marks the successful completion of the first phase of the Energizing Taliesin West™ initiative, an effort to transform the entire national historic landmark into a net zero energy customer, producing as much energy as it consumes annually, while maintaining the historic and architectural integrity of the site. The project, led by energy efficiency consultant Big Green Zero, is focused on the twin goals of maximizing the campus’ energy efficiency through improved climate controls, insulation, lighting, and other techniques while also generating renewable energy on-site.

Many local Arizona companies donated materials and labor to make the project possible. Tempe-based First Solar designed the system and donated approximately 4,000 of its thin-film solar panels as well as engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services. Power-One donated an Aurora PVI-Central-250kW inverter manufactured in nearby Phoenix and the associated performance-monitoring equipment for the project, and Klondyke Construction donated electrical construction services. Other companies with operations in Arizona that contributed include Buesing Corp. (structural post installation), OMCO Solar (panel mounting structural materials), CLP Resources (structural and modular installation labor), Rummel Construction (site grading), Rapid (electrical equipment), Syntech (surveying), and Oldcastle (precast inverter pad). Other donors included Highway Safety Corp. (structural steel posts) and Olson Motor and Control Co. (electrical equipment).

The entire solar power system is engineered to provide maximum renewable energy with minimal impact. The ground-mounted First Solar PV system at Taliesin West is expected to generate more than 500 megawatt-hours per year of electricity with no water or waste, displacing more than 300 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Native cacti and other plant species which were removed during construction will be transplanted throughout the project site, and the entire site will be seeded to restore native vegetation. Visible portions of the mounting system have been painted to help blend into the desert environment.

“We are excited to have partnered with Big Green Zero and First Solar to complete the first phase of Energizing Taliesin West and are on track to making a world-famous national historic landmark site entirely self-sustaining,” said Sean Malone, CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. “As we continue to move forward with this endeavor we remain consistent with the values of Taliesin West and advancing the foundation’s mission to preserve and expand the heritage of Frank Lloyd Wright. We will continue to educate and empower new generations of innovative thinkers to address the critical issues of sustainability and healthy living environments.”

“We are very proud to be a part of this historic landmark, and we are confident the integration of clean solar power into Taliesin West will help advance the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright and educate visitors from around the world about renewable energy,” said Jim Lamon, First Solar’s senior vice president of engineering, procurement and construction and operations and maintenance. “This project represents a microcosm of the solar industry in Arizona, and we are gratified that many of the same partners we work with to build utility-scale projects like Agua Caliente and APS Paloma joined in to support our community and make this vision a reality.”

Bob Roth, CEO of Big Green Zero, noted that the Energizing Taliesin West project started with a 2011 energy audit which found the site’s nearly $200,000 energy bill could be reduced 51 percent through energy efficiency improvements and the balance could be offset by renewable solar energy. As a result, Big Green Zero proposed developing the program to demonstrate best-of-breed energy efficiency and solar energy technologies.

Roth added that this is just the beginning. “Over the next several years, the Energizing Taliesin West team will be installing and experimenting with additional energy efficiency technologies. Our goal is to make Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West a Big Green Zero.”

For more information about the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, visit For more information about First Solar, visit For more information about Big Green Zero, visit

Publication date: 7/23/2012