Size matters

The biggest photovoltaic solar panel array in the United States has opened at Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas. The 14-megawatt system will generate more than 30 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, providing about a quarter of the base’s total power needs.

The system features 72,000 solar panels covering 140 acres of Nellis land. The energy will be used by more than 12,000 people living and working at the base. MMA Renewable Ventures financed the power plant and will be selling electricity to the base at a fixed rate for the next 20 years. Nevada Power, a subsidiary of Sierra Pacific Resources, plans to purchase renewable energy credits generated by the array.

Other renewable energy projects within the military are expected to follow. “The project also provides a future test bed for the Department of Defense to assess the benefits of similar arrangements on installations across the United States,” said base commander Colonel Michael Bartley.