White Sands Missile Range home to Army's largest solar farm

White Sands Missile Range home to Army's largest solar farm
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POSTED: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 5:50pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 9:51am

White Sands Missile Range held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the largest Army solar farm Wednesday morning at the Frontier Club on post.

The 42 acre solar farm can produce up to about 10 million kilowatt hours of clean energy translating into enough power for 3700 homes.

"We're looking forward to being a good example of what right looks like and being able to reap the benefits this initiative will bring to us," said Commanding General Gwen Bingham.

The 4 megawatt solar farm features 774 solar clusterS with 20 solar panels per cluster.

The project did not cost the taxpayers any money to build because the range partnered with Siemens USA who will sell the power produced to the range at a fixed rate for 25 years.

The solar plant will produce about 10 percent to the installation's total demand, but will save an estimated $930,000.

"That's a significant cost saving for us," Bingham said. "Particularly now when we have to tighten up our belt in terms of resources."

The plant is designed to be as efficient as possible with the solar clusters rotating from east to west throughout the day, catching as much sun as possible.

With less of a reliance on fossil fuels, the plant will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 7.5 tons, the equivalent of planting 188,000 trees.

"When we make use of the resources we have on hand, we are better as a nation," said the Assistant Secretary of the Army Installations Katherine Hammack.

The range built the site where it could be expanded in the future.

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