Navy, DOE dedicate 210-MW Sempra solar facility

The Department of the Navy (DON), Department of Energy (DOE), a Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE) subsidiary and the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) dedicated the 210-MW Mesquite Solar 3 on Oct. 14.

The solar facility will provide one third of the power needed for 14 Navy and Marine Corps installations in California. The agreement represents the largest purchase of renewable energy ever made by a federal entity, according to a Navy news release.

The physical footprint of Mesquite Solar 3 is located in Tonopah, Arizona.

The 210-MW direct current (DC) solar facility project is coming online in four stages. The first power block began generating electricity in August, with the remaining three blocks scheduled for completion by year-end 2016, which is when the facility will be fully operational.

The dedication ceremony featured remarks from Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations & Environment, Dennis V. McGinn; Executive Director of the Department of Energy Loan Programs Office Mark McCall; Administrator and CEO of WAPA, Mark Gabriel; and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power Senior Vice President and President, Renewables, Kevin Sagara.

“This ceremony marks the completion of one of the first, and most monumental, renewable energy projects undertaken by the Navy,” said McGinn.

The DOE Loan Programs Office was key to the success of the adjoining Mesquite Solar 1 facility. Although unable to attend today’s ceremony, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz relayed his support in a message for the attendees.

“The Navy has become a leader in renewable energy and advanced biofuels by demonstrating a long term vision to advance clean energy and security. I want to congratulate Secretary Mabus and his team for their ongoing efforts,” said Moniz.

In addition to the energy security benefits to the DON, Mesquite Solar 3 will provide clean solar energy to the 14 installations contributing 21% of the energy needed to meet the Secretary of the Navy’s 1 GW goal, which the Navy’s Renewable Energy Program Office surpassed at the end of 2015.

The list of installations that will be provided solar energy from the Mesquite 3 Solar facility include: Naval Base (NB) San Diego, NB Coronado, NB Point Loma, NB Ventura County, Naval Support Activity Monterey, Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Seal Beach, NWS Seal Beach Detachment Norco, NWS Seal Beach Detachment Fallbrook, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport.

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Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.