By Cameron Chai
The U.S. Air Force has planned a 14.5 MW photovoltaic solar array for the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. It is to be built on 170 ac of land and is expected to produce 35% of the AF base’s power requirements.
The USAF and SunEdison have entered into an agreement for designing, operating, maintaining and financing the solar array. The construction of the array is expected to be complete in December 2012. The Department of Defense has granted approval for the project. Further, Arizona has many historical Native American areas and the project has to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.
The solar array is expected to help the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base save up to $500,000 a year in utility costs. As part of the agreement, electricity is to be provided to the base for a period of 25 years at a lower rate.
The Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency’s Rates and Renewables Branch Chief Ken Gray at the Tyndall AFB, states that the construction of the solar array must be complete by 2012 end, and it has to commence generation of power for ensuring viability. Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) have to be sold by SunEdison to Tucson Electric Power in a program that ends on the last day of this year.
Tucson Electric Power will be able to gain federal tax incentives and also meet the renewable portfolio standards of the state through purchase of RECs. Owners of RECs are credited with the purchase of renewable energy.
The Energy Policy Act 2005 and Executive Order 13423 have established certain goals and the Air Force is presently operating 131 solar, landfill and waste-to-energy gas, and wind power projects to meet these goals. And by 2013, it intends to complete 30 new projects.
Gray added that the Air Force was planning on a 10 MW solar array at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and a 6 MW solar array at Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts.