By David Wichner for the Arizona Daily Star
The Air Force is moving ahead with plans to build a 14.5-megawatt photovoltaic solar array at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (D-M), Tucson.
The D-M installation would be the Air Force’s largest in terms of generating capacity, eclipsing a 14-megawatt array that went online at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in 2007.
Construction on the D-M project, initially announced in September 2010, will begin soon with completion planned for no later than December, the Air Force said.
The base has entered into an agreement with California-based solar developer SunEdison LLC to design, finance, build, operate and maintain the array on 170 acres of underutilized base property.
D-M is already home to the largest residential photovoltaic installations in the nation, 6 megawatts worth of solar at D-M’s Soaring Heights Communities base housing complex.
The new array must be built and generating electricity by the end of the year to qualify through renewable-energy credits from Tucson Electric Power Co., said Ken Gray of the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
The $38.4 million power purchase agreement provides electricity to Davis-Monthan at a reduced rate for a period of 25 years, saving the base from $400,000 to $500,000 a year in utility costs, the Air Force said. The project will provide 35 percent of the energy needed to power the base.
The Davis-Monthan solar array required the first Pentagon approval for an Air Force project of that type.
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