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SunPower breaks ground on 13.78-MW solar power plant in California | Northamerica

SunPower breaks ground on 13.78-MW solar power plant in California

SunPower Corp.announced that the company has broken ground on a 13.78-megawatt (DC) solar photovoltaic (PV) power system at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake (NAWS China Lake) in California. The plant is expected to create 140 jobs during construction, and generate the equivalent of more than 30 percent of NAWS China Lake's annual energy load, helping to reduce costs by an estimated $13 million over the next 20 years.

The plant is financed through a solar power purchase agreement (PPA) with SunPower. An affiliate of MetLife, Inc. purchased the system that SunPower designed and is building. NAWS China Lake will host the system, and buy electricity at prices currently below the retail utility rate, which provides the Navy with a long-term hedge against rising power prices with no initial capital investment. SunPower will operate and maintain the plant when it is completed at the end of this year.

This is the first 20-year term PPA with a federal agency. The 20-year PPA matches conventional project financing terms for solar power facilities and allows the Navy to secure electricity at up to 30 percent below the rate available through shorter duration 10-year PPAs.

"This 20-year PPA will significantly lower electricity costs to the U.S. Navy over the life of the system, and can be used as a template for additional large-scale federal solar projects," said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, regions. "SunPower has more than a decade of experience and more than 50 megawatts installed or under contract with the federal government. We are pleased to be a leading solar provider to the U.S. government, delivering the industry's most efficient solar technology."

The plant at NAWS China Lake will use the SunPower Oasis? Power Plant product, a fully integrated, modular solar power block that is engineered to rapidly and cost-effectively deploy utility-scale solar projects while optimizing land use. Each power block integrates the SunPower® T0 Tracker with SunPower's high-efficiency, Buy American-compliant E20 series solar panels, pre-manufactured system cabling, the Oasis smart inverter, and the Oasis operating system. SunPower Oasis also features the SunPower advanced Tracker Monitoring and Control System (TMAC?) for wireless control of the power plant. The power block kits are shipped pre-assembled to the job site for rapid field installation, and offer the highest capacity factor and the most reliable long-term performance.

SunPower has worked with federal agencies since 1999, resulting in more than 25 megawatts of operating solar power systems at federal government facilities, including solar power plants at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, Pearl Harbor, Ft. Dix, Coronado Island and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
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Posted by Gisela Bühl | 2012-01-18