Huge Military Photovoltaic System Granted $1.1 Million

By Published On: December 14, 2003

Coming in at about four times the cost associated with fossil-fueled power plants, the U.S. Marine Corps got $4.5 million in funding for a 1.1 MW photovoltaic installation from Southern California Gas. While it is expensive, solar industry insiders say the funding for the project Twentynine Palms Marine Corps is reasonable, particularly in light of volatile natural gas prices. The funds in this case come from a California Public Utilities Commission self-generation program. SoCal Gas calls it one of the largest photovoltaic systems in the country. The military is apparently a big winner with SoCal, as the next-largest award went to the navy, with an 800 kW photovoltaic system for $3.6 million. Twentynine Palms Marine Corps was also the beneficiary of Sempra Energy Solutions? project to install energy-efficiency measures. But the funding for these installations was from a different funding source, said SoCal spokesperson Richard Beamish. The efficiency measures were installed under a successful federal energy savings performance contract, which split the savings from efficiency measures between the government and the private contractor. The law providing for that contract, which had broad support, sunset on October 1 because the White House?s professed support never materialized. The CPUC?s subsidies for photovoltaics are $4.50/watt in capacity. The current installation cost for such systems generally runs between $7/watt and $9/watt.

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