Eileen Jacobson remembers her husband as a man who would rather be climbing power poles and restoring electricity for people in the aftermath of a hurricane or ice storm than supervising a crew for UniSource Energy Services.
“He’s an old-school lineman,” Jacobson said Monday following a ceremony dedicating UniSource’s new 5-megawatt solar plant north of Kingman in honor of Steven Jacobson. “He made a point of climbing every day, even when all the other guys were using buckets.”
Steven Jacobson died March 25, 2015, at age 56 after a two-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He would have been “very humbled” by the solar facility dedication, his widow said.
“This is an incredible honor. This is what he lived for. He was a lineman and when he came home at the end of the day, he always said he felt like he accomplished something,” Jacobson said.
The Steven H. Jacobson Solar Facility, located on 32 acres on Calle Blanca, east of Cactus Wren Road, will produce enough power to meet the electric needs of 900 homes a year. It adds to UniSource’s growing portfolio of renewable energy, which is up to about 130 megawatts.
“We’re honored to name this new clean energy resource after someone who worked for so long and so hard to provide service to our customers,” said Carmine Tilghman, senior director of energy supply for UniSource.
“I never met Steve when he didn’t have a smile. He truly represents UniSource. We’re extremely honored to have Steve in our lives. The loss of Steve is not only a tragedy for his family, but also a loss for UniSource Energy Services.”
Construction of the $9 million solar array began in September and was finished in March. Engineering and construction companies that worked on the facility included Sverdrup Engineering Services, Bowman Consulting, Premier Builders Group and Sletten Construction.
It consists of 15,800 solar panels, each 3 feet by 6 feet, and will save 5.7 million gallons of water a year compared with energy produced at fossil fuel plants, Tilghman noted. It will offset about 6,600 tons of carbon dioxide a year.
Solar power plays an important role in UniSource’s clean energy generating portfolio. The utility provider is working to deliver 20 percent of its power from renewable resources by 2020, surpassing requirements that much be achieved by 2025 under Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard.
“We’re being driven by company standards,” Tilghman said. “We’re way ahead of the state. Consumers are asking for cleaner, more sustainable resource portfolio. They’re more conscientious of the fact that that energy comes from large power plants they’ve been protected from seeing. Out of sight, out of mind.”
UniSource’s community-scale solar resources have a combined capacity of 66 megawatts, which is enough clean energy to power more than 14,000 homes a year.
Tilghman said another solar facility is being built to the north of the Steven H. Jacobson facility that will be 10 times larger and will almost double the renewable energy capacity for UniSource.
UniSource provides electric service to about 95,000 customers in Mohave and Santa Cruz counties. The company also brings natural gas to 154,000 customers in Arizona. Its sister company, Tucson Electric Power, delivers power to 417,000 people in the Tucson area.
Tilghman said he will forever remember Jacobson as one of UniSource’s many professionals who paved the path for where the company is headed today.
“Although Steve is gone, his spirit and dedication will live on forever,” Tilghman said at the ceremony attended by Jacobson’s family and coworkers at UniSource.
Originally from California, Jacobson moved to Kingman in 1984 and worked more than 30 years for UniSource, first as a lineman and then as a foreman and supervisor after injuring his back.
He traveled to Hawaii after a hurricane and to Vermont after an ice storm to help utilities restore service.
“Whenever we had emergencies or storms, Steve was always there to help, whether he was a lineman or a foreman or a supervisor,” said Bill DeJulio, senior director of UNS Electric and Jacobson’s racquetball partner. “He was always ready to contribute.”
Along with being a good family man and hard worker, Jacobson volunteered for several community organizations and served on Kingman’s Clean City Commission.
He played racquetball, golf and softball, and loved rock and roll music. Some of his favorite songs were played during the two-hour dedication ceremony.