Navy throws switch 100_0411

NAVAL AIR WEAPONS STATION CHINA LAKE, Calif. – On Oct. 24, Capt. Mick Gleason threw the switch that turned on the Station’s photovoltaic carports, the first of five solar energy projects designed to save money and to reduce the Navy’s dependency on traditional sources of energy.

Joining the base commanding officer was Cmdr. Robert Fairbanks, the public works officer of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command at China Lake, which is responsible for energy programs. Also on hand were Mark Suacci, president of E-Village Solar; and Sean Halpin, head of NAVFAC’s Utility and Energy Management Branch at China Lake.

The 124-kilowatt photovoltaic carport project, located in the parking lots of the Combined Bachelor’s Housing and the Paradise Community Center, is estimated to reduce energy consumption approximately 228,160-kilowatt hours per year, resulting in approximately $56,000 savings per year. In addition, it will provide Sailors shade for their vehicles.

“China Lake is a perfect place for alternative energy,” said Gleason. “It has 360 days of sunshine, clear days and an altitude that puts us closer to the sun – that big ball of fire.”

Capt. Gleason thanked Andy Stanley, field representative for Congressman Kevin McCarthy, and Jim McCrae, from the City of Ridgecrest, for their support. He also thanked members of E-Village, the project subcontractor, Fairbanks and Halpin for their efforts in completing this first project.

Future projects include a 200kw PV array on the North Range, a 30kw solar carport at the Police Department/Fire Station, a 71kw solar carport at Michelson Lab’s east parking lot and a 60kw solar carport at Parking Lot 3 at Armitage Field.

The military is one of the highest energy users, said Suacci. But, he noted, it is also the leader in developing alternative energy sources.

Fairbanks noted NAVFAC has been tasked by the Energy Policy Act 2005 to increase military bases’ renewable energy capabilities by three percent from 2007 to 2009, five percent from 2010 to 2012 and 7.5 percent from 2013 and beyond. In addition, President Bush signed Executive Order 13423 earlier this year, which mandates a 30 percent reduction of energy intensity by 2015.

The projects are being funded by the Department of the Navy Energy Program Office, via the Energy Conservation Incentive Program.

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