Air Force Base Getting 15 MW Solar Plant

An Air Force base in Arizona is set to get the largest solar power system on U.S. government property, it was announced yesterday. The utility behind the project – Arizona Public Service (APS) – hopes to have the 15 MW power plant up and running by summer 2011, pending environmental assessments, permitting and site preparation work.

APS said the plant, to be located on more than 100 acres of underutilized land on the Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona will use 52,000 high-efficiency SunPower solar panels controlled by a single axis tracking system to allow the panels to follow the sun across the sky, capturing 25 percent more energy than if the panels were stationary. It is believed the plant will be able to handle the energy needs of 3,750 Arizona homes or 50 percent of the Base’s energy needs.

APS Luke Air Force Base

image via APS

This particular project is not the first between the public utility and the Air Force base. In 2006, APS provided $1.5 million in incentives to reduce the cost of integrating a 375-kilowatt solar system into the Base Exchange’s new roof. As with that project, the new solar facility will be paid for by customers and approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission.

“The project and our long-term agreement with APS will benefit the American tax-payer,” said Air Force Lt. Col. John Thomas, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron commander at Luke, in a statement.”The Base will receive stable energy costs and increased energy independence associated with using reliable, emission-free solar power.”

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