A flock of fluffy, four-legged field workers has arrived at a local Tucson Electric Power solar array, ensuring the panels can continue producing clean energy for customers.
The flock of about 25 sheep lives and works at the Prairie Fire Solar Array, located near South Kolb and East Valencia roads, keeping weeds trimmed that otherwise could grow high enough to block the sun and inhibit solar power production, TEP said in a news release.
TEP owns and operates the 5-megawatt facility, which was built in 2012 and includes more than 17,600 fixed photovoltaic panels. The array produces enough solar energy to power more than 1,000 homes each year.
Instead of using lawn mowers, sprays or weed trimmers, the sheep will eat vegetation that grows beneath and around the solar panels, providing a cost-effective way to maintain the site while preserving the surrounding environment, TEP said.
The flock is managed by Southwest Lambscaping. The company also manages a flock of sheep at Red Horse Solar, a 51-megawatt solar array near Willcox that also produces power for TEP customers.