SAN JOSE, Calif., Oct. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In a dedication ceremony today attended by Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy Roger Natsuhara, SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) announced the completion of the largest solar system in the US Navy, a 13.78-megawatt (DC) solar photovoltaic (PV) power system at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake (NAWS China Lake) in Calif. Using SunPower's high-efficiency, Buy American-compliant solar panels, the plant is generating the equivalent of more than 30 percent of China Lake's annual energy load, helping to reduce costs by an estimated $13 million over the next 20 years.
Using a long-term energy procurement authority (US Code Section 2922A), the power plant is the first federal agency project to be financed through a 20-year term solar power purchase agreement (PPA). The 20-year PPA requires no upfront capital or maintenance obligations from the Navy, matches conventional project financing terms for solar power facilities, and allows the Navy to secure electricity at up to 30 percent below the rate available through shorter duration 10-year PPAs.
"SunPower congratulates the Navy for its forward-thinking commitment to solar as a reliable resource that strengthens this country's energy independence and security. This 20-year PPA will significantly lower long-term electricity costs at China Lake, and can be used as a template for additional large-scale federal solar projects," said Howard Wenger, president, regions, of SunPower. "With 52 megawatts installed, SunPower has more than a decade of experience working with the federal government. We are pleased to be the leading solar provider to the U.S. government, delivering cost-effective solar solutions that generate the highest value returns over the long term."
An affiliate of MetLife, Inc. purchased the system that SunPower designed, built and is operating and maintaining. NAWS China Lake is hosting the system, and buying electricity at prices currently below the retail utility rate, which provides the Navy with a long-term hedge against rising power prices and required no initial capital investment.