Science and Technology News

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

D-M hosts 16.4 MW solar array ribbon cutting ceremony

by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/18/2014 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Davis-Monthan photovoltaic solar array project was held here, Feb. 13.

The 16.4 megawatt solar array is the largest of its kind on any U.S. Department of Defense installation.

"This project will produce enough energy annually to power 3,000 homes; it will reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking 7,500 off the road and it will save 20 million gallons of water," said David Hutchens, President of Tucson Electric Power. "That's a great effect for our environment and that's right here in our Tucson community."

In 2010, Davis-Monthan entered into an agreement with SunEdison, LLC to design, finance, build, operate and maintain the array on 170 acres of underutilized land at two locations on base. The agreement will provide approximately 35 percent of the base's electricity requirements, at an economically beneficial rate for 25 years, reducing base utility costs by an average of $500,000 annually.

"It is satisfying and gratifying, after 25 years in this industry, the leadership that has been shown and continues to be shown by the Air Force and DOD in leading and showing the way forward around a clean cost effective energy future," said Bill Green, Chief Executive Officer of MIC Solar Energy Holdings LLC.

The AF is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, spending more than $9 billion annually in electricity and fuel costs. The AF is working to reduce energy consumption through various initiatives, including renewable energy sources, such as solar, with a slated goal to increase its renewable energy consumption to 25 percent by 2025.

Energy efficiency reduces operating costs and increases available funds that can be spent caring for Airmen, the mission and other AF priorities, such as recapitalization and modernization efforts.

"When you look at the money saved, it's incredible and also critical to our mission, not only to D-M, but also to the DoD," said Col. Kevin E. Blanchard, 355th Fighter Wing commander. "We are looking across the DoD right now for every avenue that we can find to save money and put that money into readiness and sustainment of our force.

Blanchard said, by saving money on D-M's electric bill, that will help the future of our Air Force, the greatest air force in the world."

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