The Navy announced last week that it will buy power from a massive solar farm in Arizona to help power 14 military installations in what is the largest renewable energy purchase by the U.S. government to date.
The solar facility is currently under construction about 60 miles west of Phoenix, and is being funded by part of a $1 billion Energy Department loan guarantee. The 150 megawatt array has the capacity to power up to 100,000 California homes at once and is slated to be operational by 2016.
The plan will see a third of the power for 14 Navy and Marine Corps installations in California coming from solar generation, marking the latest in the U.S. military's recent turn towards renewable energy technologies, such as solar and biofuels, to trim dependence on fossil fuels.
Last year, the Navy arranged to install residential solar panels at nearly 6,000 Navy and Marine Corps housing units in the San Diego area.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who was present at the ceremony for the signing of the solar contract, is particularly interested in solar energy. In June, Mabus requested to have solar energy panels installed on the parking lots at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.
"We're going to use it as a pilot for how we can do this other places, particularly urban places where there's not a whole lot of land available," Mabus said of the plan to bring solar power to Anacostia-Bolling. The initiative was part of the Capital Solar Challenge, which encourages military installations to find ways and places to utilize solar energy.
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