With about 325 sunny days per year and an average high temperature of 85 degrees, it's hard to beat rapidly growing, resource-strapped Phoenix, AZ, as an ideal site for solar power. With this in mind, Mayor Phil Gordon recently unveiled a plan to turn Phoenix into a solar city, and he was an enthusiastic speaker at a ceremony last month kicking off National Bank of Arizona's solar installation, a 222 kilowatt project that will generate more than 350,000 kilowatt hours of solar electricity annually, enough to power 20 to 30 homes. When completed later this summer it will be the second largest commercial installation in the city. "This project is a great step toward a greener Phoenix and demonstrates our city's potential as a leader in solar power generation," the mayor said.

Several banks around the nation have installed solar technology, but NBA's installation may be the largest. It involves 3,000 modules sitting atop the bank's carports at its headquarters. The $1.5 million cost is a hefty outlay for a $4 billion-asset bank, but Craig Robb, evp at NBA, says the decision was easy given the quick payback and reputational boost for the Zions Bancorp affiliate that has operated in the Phoenix area for 25 years. "This is going to sound like a cliche, but I really feel that we're investing the community," Robb says.

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