The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force broke ground with Gulf Power, a subsidiary of Southern Co. (NYSE: SO), on Dec. 16 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, marking the start of construction for three large-scale solar facilities.
Combined, these facilities will have approximately 1.5 million solar panels that could generate up to 157 (dc)/120 MW (ac). Gulf Power and its third party developer, Coronal Development Services, will construct three facilities – one at NAS Pensacola, one at NAS Whiting Field and one at Eglin Air Force Base.
On April 16, the Florida Public Service Commission approved all three projects. The Navy and Air Force signed land lease agreements with Gulf Power this past fall.
- Dennis V. McGinn, the assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment, said: “Together, we can provide physical security to the assets, increase the regional grid resiliency and upgrade the energy infrastructure where our Sailors and aviators live and work, as well as stimulate economic activity through development. Energy, the economy, the environment and our national security are bound together; you cannot affect one without affecting the others, and these projects have positive benefits in all four dimensions.”
- Miranda A.A. Ballentine, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy, said: “The Air Force is focused on using these types of partnerships as a viable business model to improve the service’s energy resiliency and provide mission assurance through energy assurance. Renewable energy projects like this are good for the nation because it increases grid diversity, improves resiliency, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.”
- Stan Connally, president and CEO of Gulf Power, stated: “This is an important collaboration between Gulf Power, the Navy and Air Force. Through careful planning, we’ve been able to work alongside our military partners to help support solutions for them to meet federal renewable energy and energy conservation mandates, while Gulf Power pursues cost-effective forms of renewable energy at the same time.”
The parties anticipate these solar facilities to be operational by December 2016 and to serve all Gulf Power customers. Once operational, these facilities are estimated to generate the following numbers on a sunny day:
- NAS Pensacola: 65 MW (dc) or 50 MW (ac)
- NAS Whiting Field: 52 MW (dc) or 40 MW (ac)
- Eglin Air Force Base: 40 MW (dc) or 30 MW (ac).