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A new solar array tops the roof of building 233 at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz. March 11, 2010. The array powers building 234, which is used by Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13’s ground support equipment section. While the array does not produce enough electricity to completely power the building, it does significantly reduce the buildings power consumption from the station power grid.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron Diamant

Solar panels reduce Yuma air station energy use

1 Apr 2010 | Lance Cpl. Aaron Diamant

A new solar array with nearly 200 panels began generating renewable energy on top of a building here March 12, 2010, helping to reduce the air station’s energy consumption and meet goals set forth by the federal government.

The project was also the first solar energy project completed in the Marine Corps with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

The ARRA funds allowed the solar array to be built without draining funds from the station’s budget, said Lt. j.g. Jeff Fusick, station assistant resident officer in charge of construction.

Energy reduction incentives from Arizona Public Services also lowered the construction cost of the solar array.

The incentives are open to anyone to try to reduce overall demand on the APS electrical grid so they won’t have to build new power plants, said Ron Durfey, station energy manager.

The project cost a total of $391,139 and is projected to save the station $8,000 to $9,000 annually in electrical energy costs.

Federal regulations have ordered federal agencies to reduce their energy consumption by 3 percent a year, and the array was built as part of the Navy and Marine Corps’ move toward renewable energy.

“The chief of naval operations wants to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Fusick. “The most tested and proven system is solar photovoltaic systems, especially in the desert where we have about 300 days of sun annually.”

The solar array, located on top of building 233, consists of 189 photovoltaic panels, each rated at 175 W. Two 15 kW inverters transfer the direct current to the alternating current needed to power the building.

The electricity generated by the solar array is metered and tracked by the station’s energy managers so the “green power” produced can be reported to Headquarters Marine Corps toward the station’s renewable energy goals, said Durfey.

All power produced by the array is consumed by building 234, is used by Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13's ground support equipment section. Although the array doesn’t take the facility completely off the power grid, it does reduce the amount of energy the station must purchase from the commercial utility company, said Durfey.

The project was developed by the station installation and logistics department and Naval Facilities Command Southwest, with construction managed by the station resident officer in charge of construction.

The contract for construction of the array was awarded to Syska Hennessy Group Construction, Inc., with local subcontractors Yuma Solar and Yuma Electric installing and wiring the system into the building.

This was the fifth solar project installed on station within the last year.

Previous solar projects include an electric vehicle charging station, a building-integrated photovoltaic system at building 228, and solar systems at the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program training pit and building 1239.

Another solar project is currently under construction at the station water plant, where solar panels are being installed on the roof of a water storage facility to power the water treatment plant.

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