Nellis Air Force Base Saves over $1,000,000 a Year on Energy Costs

We’re pleased that our solar plant enables the Air Force to demonstrate its leadership in reducing dependence on traditional forms of electric power.”

– Major Don Ohlemacher, Operations Flight Chief and acting Commander of the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada

The SunPower Advantage

For several years, Nellis considered solar options from several companies. However, plans fell through due to high installation and solar power costs. Air Force regulations did not permit the base to invest in a power project that cost more than the electricity purchased from the local utility company. Finally, in an open bidding process in early 2007, SunPower emerged as the partner of choice by bringing its utility-scale European experience to the U.S., and by offering Nellis a premier system bid at a price below the local utility’s rates.

A Wise Financial Decision

The SunPower solar project did not require any out-of-pocket capital investment by the U.S. Air Force. Under the terms of the SunPower Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), MMA Renewable Ventures, LLC financed and owns the system, selling power to Nellis at a guaranteed rate for the next 20 years. SunPower also helped Nellis broker Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) with Nevada Power, further reducing the project’s cost.

Measures of Excellence

The employees at Nellis take pride in the fact that the Air Force Base is home to one of the largest solar power system in the U.S. Over the next 30 years, this solar system will help Nellis reduce carbon emissions by 24,000 tons, which is equivalent to planting 260,000 acres of trees, or removing 185,000 cars from the roads.

Project Overview

Location:    Nevada
Completed:    December 2007
Installation Type:    Single-Axis Tracker
System Size:    14.2 megawatts
Estimated Air Force Savings:    $1 million annually
Covered Area:    140 acres
Number of Panels:    70,000
Products and Services:    
SunPower® T20 Tracker
SunPower® Tracker

Project Partners:     
Energy Purchaser & Site Host:    Nellis Air Force Base
Utility:    Nevada Power
Solar System Owner & Operator:    MMA Renewable Ventures, LLC
Solar System Designer & Integrator:    SunPower Corporation
Solar Panel Manufacturers:    SunPower Corporation
SunTech Power Holdings
Evergreen Solar, Inc.
Inverter Manufacturer:    Xantrex Technology Inc.
Data Acquisition System:    Energy Recommerce, Inc.

  • Estimated annual energy savings of $1 million
  • Meets 25% of the base’s electricity requirements, serving over 12,000 people
  • Significantly reduces environmental footprint while providing energy security
  • Hedges against rising electricity prices
  • Supports Nevada’s Renewable Portfolio Standard
  • Will reduce carbon emissions by 24,000 tons over 30 years, equivalent to removing over 185,000 cars from the roads or planting 260,000 acres of trees