Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE: STP), the world's largest producer of solar panels, recently supplied 3.4 megawatts (MW) of solar panels for a solar installation at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California. The solar installation at Edwards Air Force Base was designed, financed, and installed by Borrego Solar, a leading national solar solutions provider, at no upfront cost to Edwards Air Force Base.
The more than 12,000 solar panels provided for the project, which started generating power in February 2012, were made at Suntech's manufacturing facility in Goodyear, Arizona. Solar panels produced at Suntech's Goodyear facility are compliant for procurement in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and Buy American Act projects.
"We're honored to support our country and its efforts to achieve energy independence," said Mike Starr, Production Manager at Suntech Arizona, and a former U.S. Army non-commissioned officer (NCO). "Now that we're running full-steam ahead here at the Goodyear factory, it's exciting to see our products helping to make the U.S. clean energy economy a reality."
"It's a great feeling to know that our daily work here in Goodyear benefits our country," added Derick Bangle, Maintenance Technician at Suntech Arizona and former Specialist 4, U.S. Army. "We can make a difference with each solar panel that comes off our manufacturing lines."
Through a power purchase agreement (PPA), Borrego Solar will sell the clean power generated back to Edwards Air Force Base at an economical and fixed rate, offsetting an average of six percent of the energy consumption across three facilities.
"This project was a big milestone for Borrego Solar and the military, as it demonstrates how public-private partnerships can succeed and provide the most effective means to drive large-scale solar energy systems on government property," said Mike Hall, CEO of Borrego Solar. "Looking ahead, we are excited to work with more military and federal facility managers to help them take full advantage of the financial benefits that come from using solar to generate clean sustainable energy, and local jobs."
To promote long-term energy security, the U.S. Department of the Army recently established the Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF) to oversee the Army's goal of sourcing 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025.
"Our utility bills for the summer actually double, but our consumption only goes up three percent," said James Judkins, Civil Engineering Director for the 95th Air Base Wing. "What we're trying to do with this project is not so much conserve energy, but save money. Our utility bill can range anywhere from $15 million to $18 million a year and you have to pay that bill. If you don't have the electricity, the planes don't fly."
Suntech's Goodyear, Arizona, manufacturing facility was opened in October 2010. The 117,000 square foot manufacturing facility features highly-automated manufacturing and product testing equipment and currently produces Suntech's multicrystalline silicon solar panels for commercial and utility-scale electricity generation.
Suntech's Goodyear operation has steadily increased its workforce, adding a second shift in January 2011 and a third shift in May 2011. The state-of-the-art module manufacturing facility now runs twenty-four hours per day with more than 100 highly-skilled employees. The facility's annualized production throughput is nearly 50MW, representing about 15,000 high-quality solar panels per month, or enough to power about 10,000 homes. In December 2011, Suntech Arizona was recognized by the Phoenix Business Journal as one of the best places to work in Arizona.