Construction is underway on a multi-megawatt solar photovoltaic system at Nellis Air Force Base outside of Las Vegas. The largest solar photovoltaic system to ever be installed in North America, this project is a result of the collaborative effort of several contributing partners, including: the United States Air Force; Nevada Power Co.; MMA Renewable Ventures, LLC, a subsidiary of Municipal Mortgage & Equity, LLC; and PowerLight Corp., a subsidiary of SunPower Corp. PowerLight, the installing company, will be subcontracting out aspects of the work on this monumental job, including electrical.

Occupying 140 acres of land leased from the Air Force at the western edge of the base, this ground-mounted solar system will employ SunPower's advanced tracking system to follow the sun. Upon completion, the system will generate in excess of 25 million kilowatt-hours of clean electricity annually, supplying more than 25% of the power used at the base. Rated at approximately 15 megawatts (MW), the energy generated will support the more than 12,000 military and civilians at Nellis.

“Nevada has a wealth of natural resources including an abundance of sunshine. We are actively developing our solar power resource, adding to our portfolio of renewable energy resources serving our customers,” says Walter Higgins, chairman and CEO of Sierra Pacific Resources, the parent company of Nevada Power. “The Nellis solar system is our latest commitment to a set of solar power projects. In total, Nevada Power will generate more solar electricity per capita than any utility in the nation.”

From a financial standpoint, the Nellis project demonstrates how a carefully crafted third-party finance solution can effectively meet the needs of even the largest federal and municipal energy consumers, says Matt Cheney, CEO of MMA Renewable Ventures, the firm that will finance, own, and operate the landmark system and sell the power to Nellis. “In collaboration with our partners, we have set a precedent of success with the Nellis project that we look forward to replicating at federal installations throughout the United States.”