When the Department of Defense privatized military housing back in the 1990’s, little did it know that those homes would become the platform for the largest residential solar project in American history. Well, they did.
Last November, the solar installer SolarCity announced that it would build about $1 billion in solar projects for military housing under a project it calls SolarStrong, and now the company is following up with a new round of solar installations for the U.S. Air Force in partnership with the global company Lend Lease.
The Solar Powered Force of the Future
It’s no secret that Republican leaders in Congress have tried to monkey-wrench DoD’s efforts to transition to solar power and other forms of renewable energy that are cleaner, safer, and more reliable than fossil fuels. However, DoD has been finding ways to work around those obstacles.
The Navy is forging ahead with a $62-million biofuel research and development project under the force of a 1950’s-era law, and DoD has just announced a $420-million public-private partnership to build commercial-scale biorefineries for aviation biofuel and biodiesel.
The Army has topped them all with the Energy Initiatives Task Force, a planned $7 billion series of public-private solar power partnerships based on the same statutory authority that privatized military housing.
In support of this initiative, the Army Corps of Engineers envisions utility-scale projects at Army facilities that would generate renewable solar, wind, geothermal, or biomass energy. They would be built under power purchase agreements, in which the Army provides the real estate for facilities owned and operated by private sector energy companies.
SolarCity and SolarStrong
According to information provided to CleanTechnica this week, SolarCity’s new project will cover more than 850 military homes at the Los Angeles Air Force Base and two bases in Colorado Springs, Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB.
All together, the installations will total about 18,000 solar panels generating about 6.4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. That’s enough to provide up to 60 percent of the electricity used in each community, and it will help reduce strain on the grid during the summer peak use series.
Lend Lease and a Solar Powered Military
All of the properties are managed by Lend Lease, which has been building a solid track record in sustainable construction. Its projects for DoD include the two biggest solar communities in the country at Davis-Monthan AFB and Army Hawaii. Lend Lease’s solar thermal project at Camp Lejeune is also the biggest installation of its kind in the U.S.
Other large military solar projects by Lend Lease include two previous partnerships with SolarCity, for the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.
Clean Power and Green Jobs for Veterans
It’s worth noting that SolarCity has recently begun ramping up its efforts to recruit veterans into its workforce. According to SolarCity, in addition to holding job fairs, it has partnered with other veteran recruitment programs,
including the ‘100,000 Jobs Mission’ of JP Morgan Chase & Co., Swords to Plowshares, The California National Guard, The California Conservation Corps, and Veterans Green Jobs.
Just recently announced here on CleanTechnica, it currently has over 300 job openings across the U.S.
Image: Courtesy of U.S. Air Force.
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