Largest U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System Begins Construction at Nellis Air Force Base
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Construction on the largest solar photovoltaic system ever to be built in North America began at Nellis Air Force Base. Spearheading the project is a team that includes the United States Air Force, Nevada Power Company, MMA Renewable Ventures, LLC, a subsidiary of Municipal Mortgage & Equity, LLC (“MuniMae”), and PowerLight Corp., a subsidiary of SunPower Corporation.
The Nellis solar energy system will generate in excess of 25 million kilowatt-hours of clean electricity annually and supply more than 25 percent of the power used at the base. Occupying 140 acres of land leased from the Air Force at the western edge of the base, this ground-mounted solar system will employ an advanced tracking system, designed and deployed by PowerLight, to follow the sun.
Approximately 70,000 solar panels and the patented PowerLight PowerTracker® will capture up to 30 percent more energy than an equivalent ground-mounted fixed-tilt system. Rated at approximately 15 megawatts (MW), the array will generate the power of a rooftop solar system with a rating of approximately 18 MW. The energy generated will support the more than 12,000 military and civilians at Nellis who are responsible for Air Force advanced combat training, tactics development and operational testing.
MMA Renewable Ventures will finance, own and operate the landmark system and sell the power to Nellis under the terms of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
“The best way to create U.S. energy security is to develop our affordable, domestic resources,” said United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “Nevada and the United States have the technology and natural resources to serve our growing power demand with clean, reliable renewable energy. I congratulate the Air Force for their continued leadership on clean power.”
“The Nellis solar power plant is the start of the way ahead for future DoD and community partnership,” said Col. Michael Bartley, commander of the 99th Air Base Wing at Nellis. “The base will benefit from the energy produced, the environment benefits from using clean solar energy, and we may even test state-of-the-art security measures at the site. This is a good thing for everyone.”
“Nevada has a wealth of natural resources including an abundance of sunshine. We are actively developing our solar power resource, adding to our portfolio of renewable energy resources serving our customers,” said Walter Higgins, Chairman and CEO of Sierra Pacific Resources, the parent company of Nevada Power.” The Nellis solar system is our latest commitment to a set of solar power projects. In total, Nevada Power will generate more solar electricity per capita than any utility in the nation. The project accelerates Nevada Power’s compliance with our solar power goals six years ahead of schedule.”
"In addition to its sheer size and the Air Force’s impressive dedication to furthering renewable energy deployment, the Nellis project demonstrates how a carefully crafted third-party finance solution can effectively meet the needs of even the largest federal and municipal energy consumers,” said Matt Cheney, CEO of MMA Renewable Ventures. “In collaboration with our pioneering customer and partners, we have set a precedent of success with the Nellis project that we look forward to replicating at federal installations throughout the United States.” "As other organizations follow Nellis’ lead, MMA Renewable Ventures is very well positioned to leverage our industry-leading position in sponsoring tax credit equity investment opportunities in arranging innovative debt and equity financings for these projects," said Michael L. Falcone, CEO and President of MuniMae, the parent company of MMA Renewable Ventures.
“We congratulate the Air Force, Nevada Power, MMA Renewable Ventures, the Nevada Public Utility Commission and the Nevada Governor’s Office for having the vision and working so diligently to create the largest solar photovoltaic system in the nation,” said Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower Corporation. “Solar power is the fastest growing energy resource to help meet our escalating power demand, generating reliable, affordable power without creating emissions or waste.”
About Nellis Air Force Base
About Nevada Power Company
About MMA Renewable Ventures
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