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NV Energy to build $50M solar plant at Nellis Air Force Base | News

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NV Energy to build $50M solar plant at Nellis Air Force Base
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LAS VEGAS -- Nellis Air Force Base is going totally green -- well, almost.  A construction project for NV Energy to build a new $50 million, 15 megawatts, solar plant is set to begin at the base.

“This project will increase our ability to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyber-space,” said Col. Richard Boutwell, Commander at Nellis Air Force Base.

The base has always been a major adopter of the idea of clean energy. In 2007, its 13 megawatt solar array was the largest in the country.

The new solar plant combined with the other solar plant will generate enough electricity to run the entire air force base during the daylight hours. This will make Nellis Air Force Base home to the Department of Defense's largest photovoltaic system.

“Today's economic realities will make us be fiscally responsible. Having the ability to have solar energy that is reduced or free during daylight hours, while supporting the local community is vitally important,” Col. Boutwell said.

NV Energy will construct, own, maintain and operate the array. All power from the photovoltaic array will flow through the installation and power not used by the base will go to the grid.

NV Energy says the partnership with Nellis means there will be less of their cost transferred to customers. Nellis Air Force Base plans to allow the utility company to use the 102 acre piece of land for free.

It also means there will be less dependence on coal.

“We are closing coal plants right now. We just did last year and in another year we will be closing our coal fleet, so we need more generation like this,” said Pat Egan, Senior VP of Customer Operations, NV Energy.

The commander of Nellis says the solar system also means more reliability and flexibility when it comes to powering the base and the base's mission to be the Air Force's leader in tactics and training.

“It reduces energy cost for us and allows us to put money back into the mission,” Col. Boutwell said.

SunPower incorporated is in charge of the design, construction and maintenance of the “Nellis Solar Array Two." Engineers say it should be completed in the first half of 2016.

About 150 jobs are expected to be created during the construction of the plant.

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