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Solar setting the trend in 2012

5th Jan 2012

The US government is continuing to make solar a priority in 2012, with several projects already announced.

Late last week, The US Department of the Interior (DoI) approved a solar plant to be built in California.

The Centinela Solar Energy Project will see a 275 megawatt facility constructed on 2,067 acres of previously disturbed private land near El Centro and connected via a 230 kV transmission line to the existing San Diego Gas and Electric Imperial Valley Substation.

The project is expected to deliver enough electricity to power approximately 82,500 homes and comes as the state continues to strive towards its goal of achieving a 33 per cent Renewable Portfolio Standard, which is expected to require between 15,000 and 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020.

"Today’s projects are the 26th and 27th renewable energy projects that Interior has advanced in just the last two years," secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said (December 30).

"As we continue to move thoughtfully and quickly toward a clean energy future, these projects are strengthening local economies by generating good jobs and reliable power."

This follows the news that a US army base has signed a $16 million energy-efficiency project as part of president Obama's Better Buildings Challenge - an executive order calling on federal agencies to make $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades over the next two years.

Texan facility Fort Bliss will see 5,500 solar panels added to the site, operating under an energy savings performance contract.

The US Army will purchase the renewable energy without owning or maintaining the equipment, with the cost of the project to be paid out over time using the money generated by savings in electricity and utility bills.

"The US Army has truly embraced the recent directives calling for new energy efficiency measures," said building efficiency president for Johnson Controls, Dave Myers, said.

"Fort Bliss is a great example for other US military installations by taking advantage of available financing methods to fund projects that more than pay for themselves through energy cost savings."

The site is the country’s largest military installation - encompassing 1.2 million acres in west Texas and New Mexico - and is currently undergoing a US$4 billion expansion.

"We hope to be energy efficient by 2015," public affairs officer for Fort Bliss Jean Offutt said (December 20).

"Anything being done to support that initiative is good news for us."

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar correspondent

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