Arizona Public Service Co. announced today that a 17-megawatt solar-energy plant developed and built by Tucson-based Solon Corp. has gone online in Gila Bend, next to a similar facility that went online in August, the company said.

Solon and APS plan to formally dedicate the the Cotton Center Solar Plant at a ceremony next week.

The 145-acre Cotton Center plant consists of 93,000 silicon photovoltaic panels on mounts that track the sun on a single axis. It will provide enough solar power to fulfill the energy needs of more than 4,000 APS customers, the utility said.

Cotton Center is next to the Paloma Solar Plant, a 17-MW megawatt facility developed and built by Tempe-based First Solar Inc. using the company's thin-film cadmium telluride panels on fixed mounts.

The projects are in Gila Bend's Solar Field Overlay Zone, where permitting for solar projects can be fast-tracked.

Just outside of Gila Bend, the 250-MW Solana Generating Station - a concentrating thermal solar plant - is currently under construction and is set to reach commercial operation in mid-2013.