A solar energy company, SunPower Corp, was chosen by US officials to construct a plant on an Arizona air force base, according to a statement released by the company on Tuesday.
The solar energy firm struck a deal with Arizona Public Service, the largest utility company in Arizona—which is owned by Pinnacle West Capital Corp—to construct a 15-megawatt solar photovoltaic power system at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale.
Slated for completion in summer 2011, it will be the largest solar plant on a US government facility. The construction of the project will employ some 550 workers, including engineers, construction crews, and electricians. Construction will begin in January.
"Benefits of the project to the American taxpayers include no initial out-of-pocket expenses to the Air Force, significant long-term savings on electricity costs, and the increased energy independence associated with using reliable, emission-free solar power,” Air Force Lt. Col. John Thomas, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, said. Thomas is is based at Luke Air Force Base.
He added that the plant will be constructed on 101 acres of land that was previously underused. The plant will provide as much as 50 percent of the air force base's energy. SunPower, a San Jose-based company, will install approximately 50,000 high-efficiency panels on the site.
Each solar panel is equipped with a sun tracking system, which allows it to follow the movement of the sun during the day to increase efficiency by about 25 percent, the company said.
Overall, the system can generate enough energy for 3,750 homes, keeping more than 19,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere annually.
Environmental assessments, permission, and site preparation is needed before construction begins.
Military bases across the nation–including bases in Colorado, New Jersey, and California–have started using solar power as a solution to their energy needs.