Gila Bend Arizona Small Town and Solar Capital of Arizona

Gila Bend is the Solar Capital of Arizona. As of September 2011, it has three solar power plants. It is a small town in Mariposa County. Gila Bend sits on the Gila River, its namesake. It has only about 2000 residents. This is a desert town with extreme temperatures. The nearest city is 53 miles away from Glendale. This is largely a Hispanic town with 65% of the population having that nationality. Gila Bend’s residents have little education. Only half have a high school diploma.

Gila Bend has lots of unused land that developers want to utilize. Some think that using it to produce solar power is a good idea. Others think that the land should remain as it is, untouched. Already, the landscape has changed with 75,000 solar panels already installed by solar power companies.

The Paloma Solar Plant is the third solar plant to come online. It has a 17 megawatt facility and will combine First Solar with Arizona Public Service to produce solar electricity. Solon Corporation was the second solar plant. At that time, the new Solar Overlay Zone began. This zone makes getting permits for solar powered houses and businesses easier. Abengoa was the first to combine, with Arizona Public Services, to produce solar power in the Arizona desert.

The majority of men in Gila Bend have jobs in the agriculture, foresting, fishing and hunting. They also work in retail trade, food and hotel services, utilities, transportation and warehousing, public administration and manufacturing. Women work as cashiers, cooks, teachers, secretaries, clerks and cleaning personnel.

Temperatures in this town can fluctuate as much as 30 degrees F. Winter temperatures are in the 40s, and summer temperatures reach into the 100sF. Normal summer temperatures are around 110 F. Normal temperatures for the winter are usually between 65 and 75 F. Average precipitation totals are only 7 inches.

Gila Bend has a few community events to offer residents and tourists.  The Butterfield Stage Days is a rodeo and parade. It occurs in mid-Feb and lasts for two days. They have events for children Mutton Bustin’ and Calf Scramble along with barrel racing, wild horse races, calf and team roping and steer wrestling. Desert Shrimp Fest in November draws shrimp lovers from all over the area. Fresh shrimp items include coconut shrimp, shrimp scampi, popcorn shrimp, fried shrimp, shrimp cocktails and fish tacos. The event includes activities for children and entertainment, as well as an arts and crafts fair. During December, they have Santa in the Park with a winter wonderland set up for the kids.