ASU solar program shines, tops 14.5 megawatts

February 13, 2012

Visitors to the Valley of the Sun who peer out their airplane windows while flying into Sky Harbor International Airport can see the glimmer from nearly 2,100 solar panels perched atop Wells Fargo Arena. The nearly 500-kilowatt installation lets the world know that ASU’s passion for harnessing the Sun’s rays and commitment to employing renewable energy continues moving forward.

The Wells Fargo Arena installation became active exactly two months after a solar structure came online at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication on the Downtown Phoenix campus. The 77-kilowatt Cronkite system marks ASU’s third campus of four to begin generating solar energy and was commemorated with an early-December event attended by officials from the City of Phoenix, Arizona Public Service and ASU. Download Full Image

The Fall 2011 semester marked bright times for ASU's solar initiatives. In early August, ASU announced construction plans for the PowerParasol – a 5.25-acre, first-of-its-kind solar-panel project by Arizona-based Strategic Solar Energy, LLC – designed to shade 800 parking spaces in Lot 59 on the Tempe campus. The PowerParasol came online in late December and the shaded space under the structures now is open for parking.

In early September, ASU surpassed 10 megawatts of total solar energy generating capacity when the 700-panel, 168-kilowatt Verde Dickey Dome structure became active on the ASU Tempe campus. The 10-megawatt pinnacle boosted ASU’s leadership in higher education for solar energy generation in the United States. To mark the momentous achievement, the university celebrated 10 megawatts with a ceremony attended by fiscal and energy partners at the ASU West campus.

A month later, ASU was named the Solar Partner of the Year by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). The award was created by SEPA to recognize the value that a solar partner can bring a utility in the development and/or implementation of a solar project.

At the end of 2011, ASU had 55 systems comprised of more than 58,000 panels with the capacity to generate 14.5 megawatts of solar energy. The support of third-party business partners who have invested more than $121 million into ASU’s solar program has been critical to reaching this leading position in higher education solar power production. These financial commitments ensure that the university has a reduced capital investment over time.  

The university’s leading solar energy-generation capacity also is made possible in part by the APS Renewable Energy Incentive program for our Tempe, Downtown Phoenix and West campuses. Our first solar projects at the Polytechnic campus currently are under way and mark a new venture with Salt River Project (SRP). ASU is poised to reach 15.3 megawatts before the end of the Spring 2012 semester and will have solar installations operating on all four campuses and at the ASU Research Park.

Since ASU introduced the first 34-kilowatt solar panel system to the Tempe campus in 2004 on the Tyler Street parking structure, the university has made tremendous strides in its solar program. As ASU continues toward its 20 megawatt goal in 2014, it upholds a pledge to reduce its carbon footprint and implement sustainability-minded solutions into the campus community.

To learn more about the university's solar initiatives visit

Wendy Craft

Marketing and communications manager, Business and Finance Communications Group


'Wicked' good: Broadway hit musical returns to Gammage

February 13, 2012

Returning to ASU Gammage Feb. 15 for a one-month engagement, the hit musical "Wicked" is the Broadway adaptation of a revisionist look at the children's book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and the classic American film "The Wizard of Oz." And while there may not be a Kansas twister in this tale about the Land of Oz, there certainly is no dearth of twists.

Wicked tells the story of how Glinda from the North – pretty and popular – became "good" and Elphaba from the West – fiery and misunderstood – became "wicked." Why these two women became opposite one another in popular memory is a question that drives the show, serving up several satisfying plot twists and illustrating another magical side of Oz we've never seen before. Download Full Image

Before "Dorothy Gale" – and her little dog, too – dropped into Oz, much had happened within the community of munchkins, wizards and witches, according to Gregory Macguire's 1995 novel "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West," on which the musical is based. There were political factions and social upheavals, the novel reveals, and the witches had not yet grown up and found their own way. 

Writer Winnie Holzman – of such acclaimed television programs as “My So-Called Life” and “thirtysomething" – and lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz's musical adaptation of Maguire's book has launched this pre-Dorothy story into pop culture fame. Wicked has broken nearly every box office record since its 2003 debut, and when it last played at Gammage Auditorium in 2009 the show sold out in record time.

Back by popular demand, the show has become a special treat for its nationally touring cast that performs each night, says castmember Justin Brill.

"You feel so fortunate as an actor to be part of something so successful that has such a loyal following," said Brill, who has worked consistently in theatre for more than a decade. "As an actor, it's a special treat to have sold-out audiences and lots of energy surrounding the performances."

In the show, Brill performs the role of "Boq," the only munchkin to attend university. While at school, Boq becomes entangled in a love triangle between Glinda and Elphaba, the two soon-to-be witches.

"Boq is very optimistic," Brill says of his character. "He wears his heart on his sleeve, is a hopefuly guy, and makes choices based on his feelings. He means well, and he does some crazy things in the name of love."

Brill, who is lucky enough to tour with his wife, says he looks forward to the start of every performance.

"One of my favorite moments is the pre-show announcement when the lights go down and you feel the murmur, and sometimes the audience applauds, and then finally the downbeat of the orchestra," Brill said. "You can feel that energy and love for the show. It's a very exciting moment."

At the core of the show is a story about friendship and identity – the process of figuring out what and who to believe and what is in your heart, Brill says.

"Today, we are fed so much information that it is really hard to figure out what to believe," Brill said. "News is gearing toward entertainment. It's hard to figure out who to trust. What I really like about the show is that it reminds you that it's important to look within yourself and decide for yourself, and carry that forward."

For more information on Wicked, visit To learn more about Brill, visit

To catch a performance of Wicked, Feb. 15 through March 11, at ASU Gammage, on the Tempe campus, visit the Gammage Box Office or call 480-965-3434.

Britt Lewis

Interim Communications Director, ASU Library