Tucson Electric Power Co. has signed an agreement with Areva Solar to build an innovative concentrating solar steam system to TEP’s H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station on East Irvington Road.

Construction of the project is scheduled to begin this spring, and the plant is expected to be operational by early 2013.

TEP’s Sundt Solar Boost Project will use Areva Solar’s compact linear fresnel reflector solar steam generators to produce steam for an existing generating turbine, making up to 5 megawatts of emissions-free power during peak demand periods, said Areva.

Over the course of a year, the system will allow Sundt's Unit 4 generator to produce enough additional power to serve more than 600 Tucson homes, Areva said in a news release.

State regulators approved the project in December as part of TEP’s renewable-energy plan for 2012 but it was only recently finalized by TEP and Areva Solar, part of a French energy company.