13.78MW SunPower solar plant planned for US Naval Air Weapons Station - updated

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SunPower has begun designs for a 13.78MW solar PV power system at a naval air weapons station at China Lake in California, with the intention of breaking ground next month and to be in operation at the end of next year.

The installation at China Lake will feature the SunPower Oasis Power Plant product, a fully integrated, modular solar power block that deploys utility-scale solar projects while optimizing land use. Each power block integrates the SunPower T0 Tracker with the maximum efficiency SunPower E19 / 425 solar panel, pre-manufactured system cabling and other advanced features. The tracker system was recently used in Arizona’s largest solar project in Pinal County, Arizona.

It is hoped the plant will generate the equivalent of more than 30% of China Lake's annual energy load, helping to reduce costs by an estimated US$13 million over the next 20 years. The Navy is buying electricity under a power purchase agreement (PPA) and therefore no initial capital investment will be required.

Under the agreement, SunPower will design, build, operate and maintain the solar power system whilst an affiliate of Metropolitan Life (MetLife) will be the owner of the plant that will be leased to a SunPower affiliate.

“MetLife recognizes the benefits of being an investment partner in projects like China Lake,” said Jeetu Balchandani, a director in MetLife's Investments Department. “This project enables MetLife to further our commitment to supporting efforts that truly drive sustainability while aligning with our high quality investment philosophy. We are pleased to work with SunPower and the Navy on this important endeavour.”

The Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, will buy the electricity at a rate that is currently below the retail utility rate, providing the Navy with a long-term hedge against rising power prices.

“A 20-year PPA resulted in a significantly lower rate to the Navy over the life of the system,” said Karen Butterfield, SunPower's director of federal programs. “SunPower is confident in guaranteeing the performance of this system over the entire contract period. We are also proud to supply SunPower solar panels that are compliant with the Buy American Act.”
SunPower has worked with federal agencies since 1999, resulting in the installation of more than 25MW of solar power systems at government facilities, including solar power plants at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, Pearl Harbor, Ft. Dix, Coronado Island and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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