The Navy, federal Western Area Power Administration and executives of San Diego-based Sempra U.S. Gas & Power Thursday celebrated a deal to provide solar energy to 14 naval and Marine Corps installations.
The Navy will receive 210 megawatts of power from the Mesquite Solar 3 plant, which Sempra will construct beginning this month 60 miles west of Phoenix.
"The collaboration on Mesquite Solar 3 is a triumph of innovative problem solving, and will help to increase the (Navy's) energy security by diversifying our power portfolio and improving energy efficiency," Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said at an event at Naval Base San Diego.
"This agreement is also projected to save the (Navy) at least $90 million over the life of the project," Mabus said.
Kevin Sagara with Sempra echoed Mabus' comments.
“The price of solar power is very competitive with today’s power prices," Sagara said. "And out in the future the power prices are going to go up as fossil fuel prices go up. And this creates that savings.”
When the 650,000-solar-panel project is completed around the end of next year, it will deliver electricity to Naval Base San Diego, Naval Base Coronado, the Point Loma submarine base, Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, MCAS Miramar and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. Installations in Seal Beach, Corona, Ventura County and other areas in California will also receive the power.
The solar power will provide around one-third of the energy consumed at the facilities, according to the Navy.
In 2009, Congress mandated that the Department of Defense produce or purchase 25 percent of energy used at its facilities from renewable sources by 2025, with each service responsible for generating a portion.
Mabus increased the Navy's goal to one gigawatt of renewable energy by the end of this year. The Navy said it has a total 1.2 gigawatts of projects in the pipeline.
“The president in his State of the Union address three years ago said that the Navy would buy a gigawatt of renewable energy by 2020," Mabus said. "That’s half of all our power needs ashore. We’re gonna beat that by five years. We’re going to be there by the end of this year.”
Officials declined to say the cost of the solar deal.