Vandenberg solar array project

By Airman 1st Class Clayton Wear 30th Space Wing Public Affairs

Local elected officials, key Vandenberg leaders, base affiliates and local media came together for the 28 megawatt solar photovoltaic array dedication, April 10, at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

With a ceremonial switch in the foreground of the stage, representatives from SunPower, the Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and the Secretary of Air Force Environment, Safety and Infrastructure sat together, each awaiting their time to approach the podium.

“This is a really big event for the base, and for the community as well,” said Col. Gregory Wood, 30th Space Wing vice commander. “This solar farm represents a partnership and ability for us to explore renewable and clean energy for the base. What you see around you is capable of providing one third of all the power to this installation, which happens to be the third largest Air Force base that we have, so that is a significant accomplishment. It speaks volumes for all the hard work that went into making this happen.”

In order to achieve resiliency of power, many aspects were assessed in completing this project.

“From an Air Force perspective on energy, we are looking at three things,” said Mark Correll, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for environment, safety, and infrastructure. “First and foremost is resiliency. If we were to be separated from the power grid in some way, shape or form; how would we be able to recover from that to continue our mission? Power systems like this provide that kind of resilience. The second thing we care about is cost. We have changed our focus a little bit. It’s not all about saving money, it’s all about resiliency, but at the same time we can’t just pay whatever it takes to make that happen. Then the third thing from an Air Force perspective is that we are interested in clean power with a focus on renewable energy.”

Through the lens of those three focal points, the solar array is now a key provider of base power.

“We understand the importance of energy when it comes to military operations and a need for a reliable and resilient power on a military installation,” said Frank Rechner, deputy director of supplier operations for Defense Logistics Agency Energy. “We are well aware that energy diversification is key both in operational and facility environments. As of January 8th, this large scale 28 megawatt direct current solar array became fully operational and is producing electricity. This is the largest solar array project in which all energy is produced and consumed by the Air Force.”

To conclude the dedication, each representative took an equal grip of the switch to officially signify the completion of the project. Joined by a SunPower subject matter expert, the group ended with a tour of the newly installed solar panels to see, firsthand, the scale of this project.

Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Vandenberg Air Force Base website.