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SolarCity has unveiled plans to install solar panels on up to 4,700 military homes in the United States.

The project is part of SolarCity’s $1 billion SolarStrong initiative, which aims to put solar systems on up to 120,000 military homes over five years.

The next phase of the project will see solar panels being installed on military homes in Fort Bliss, Texas, and the adjacent White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico.

The 13.2MW project is an equipment lease arrangement, primarily financed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which directly supports the US Army’s vision for ‘net zero’ energy consumption at all installations.

The Defence Department is said to be the largest energy consumer in the United States and has designated Fort Bliss a “Net Zero Installation”, meaning the Army expects the installation to produce as much energy as it uses while sending no waste to landfills and maximizing water reuse.

SolarCity said it plans to start construction in January, and is initially seeking to fill more than 100 installation, electrical and maintenance jobs connected to the project.

The installer is collaborating on the project with Balfour Beatty Communities, which manages the residential communities where the solar panels will be installed.

Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy & Environment), said: "Fort Bliss continues to make advances in reducing its overall energy footprint and demonstrating its leadership on the forefront of energy efficiency.”

Hammack added: “This public/private partnership is a strategic and significant investment which will, over the life cycle of the installed photo-voltaic system, save the government money while providing an alternative and sustainable source of energy to the installation. I am confident the Army will continue to lead the way on innovative business partnerships like the one here at Fort Bliss."

SolarCity will engineer, install and maintain the solar systems at Fort Bliss and WSMR which, at 1,700 and 3,200 square miles respectively, represent two of the Army’s largest installations.

Once fully deployed, the project will create the nation’s largest solar-powered community, generating more than 21,120,000 kilowatt hours per year of clean, renewable energy from more than 50,000 solar panels, while offsetting more than 25% of the electricity typically used in each community.

SolarCity, which is expected to go public before year end, is the largest US installer of residential solar systems. It has grown rapidly, largely because it allows customers to lease its costly product by paying a monthly fee, avoiding hefty upfront costs of an outright purchase.

Earlier this year PV-Tech reported how SolarCity announced plans for a 1.3MW project to bring renewable energy to nine schools in Martinez, California.

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