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Vandenberg Solar Project To Supply 35% of Power Needs

Trump Backing Renewables?

May 25,2017-

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 5.30.43 PMDespite President Trump scoffing at government support for green energy, his Department of Defense appears to be on track to increased use of renewable power both on their bases and in the field.

In the case of the battlefield, military sources say green energy literally saves lives with the use solar power to replace diesel generators who require frequent military convoys to bring in fuel and are highly vulnerable to attack.

The clearest evidence the the US military wants to avoid the politics and think security first is news that right down the road – the Air Force is going solar.

San Jose-based SunPower Corp. has broken ground on a 28-megawatt solar photovoltaic system at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, a project expected to create about 150 jobs at peak of construction. Upon operation, it’s anticipated to be the largest behind-the-meter solar power system in the Air Force where 100 percent of the energy generated will be consumed onsite.

“A solar project that is grid-connected to the Base enables us to meet our electric demand with renewable energy and increase our energy security,” said Ken Domako, Chief, Portfolio Optimization, Vandenberg Air Force Base. “We look forward to increasing the Air Force’s energy independence with competitively priced, dependable solar from SunPower.”

The security factor has nothing to do with politics but is important  to the military in the case the electric grid is attacked and the base needs to be self sufficient.

The SunPower’s solar power system will be installed on land that has gone unused since 2007, just outside the gates of Vandenberg where Air Force housing once stood. The Base will purchase energy generated by the plant under a power purchase agreement (PPA), providing Vandenberg with competitive, fixed electricity rates over the next 25 years. The Air Force will retain all environmental credits associated with the system.

“The Air Force has an aggressive target to meet that requires full energy assurance for key missions,” said Dan Gerdes, Air Force Civil Engineer Center rates and renewables division chief. “By diversifying our energy mix at Vandenberg to include SunPower’s high efficiency solar technology, we’re confident we’ll have the electrons we need, when we need them, creating long-term value for our operations.”

Once complete, the system will provide a projected 54,500 megawatt hours of energy annually, meeting about 35 percent of Vandenberg’s total energy needs. It will also contribute to the entire Air Force’s goal of meeting 25 percent of its electricity demand with renewables.

The Air Force has solar units at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada. In the Central Valley the Lemoore Naval Air Station will soon be developing a giant 167MW solar farm, operated by Recurrent Energy, on the base’s idled farmland due to drought.

Vandenberg has also been interested in getting ocean-based wind or wave power to help power the base in the future.

SunPower is well known on the Central Coast having built a 250 MW facility operating now in the Carrizo Plain in San Luis Obispo County.

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