The U.S. Navy awarded a $200 million contract in February to construct up to 40 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic power plants at Navy and Marine Corps facilities throughout the Southwestern United States. The Navy chose five solar development companies to compete for individual projects, which will range from 1 to 15 MW. The five companies—SunEdison, AECOM Energy/Solar Power Partners Inc., SunPower Corporation, SunDurance Energy LLC, and Chevron Energy Solutions Company—will construct, own, operate, and maintain the systems, selling the power to the Navy and Marine Corps through power purchase agreements. The first three solar projects will be located in California and are expected to be awarded later this spring, becoming fully operational within a year. The new solar projects will help the Navy achieve its goal to produce at least 50% of the Navy’s shore-based energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020.

Most federal agencies are now exploring the use of renewable energy at their facilities, including solar power. For instance, the National Park Service (NPS) announced on March 4 it is installing a solar power system on Alcatraz Island, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, to replace the island’s existing diesel-generated power. The NPS is funding this and 65 other high-priority projects using $138 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds freed up when other projects came in at lower cost or were cancelled. The NPS is also drawing on Recovery Act funds for solar energy projects at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Mojave National Preserve, Point Reyes National Seashore, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, all located in California; at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado; at Everglades National Park and Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida; at Cumberland Island National Seashore and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia; at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho; at the Adams and Lowell National Historical Parks in Massachusetts; at Sleepy Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan; at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area and Mount Rainer National Park in Washington; and at the American Memorial Park in the Northern Mariana Islands.

The NPS Recovery Act projects also include the addition of wind turbines at the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska and at the Lowell National Historical Park in Massachusetts. In addition, various energy efficiency improvements, such as new insulated windows and heating system upgrades, are slated for 23 NPS facilities in 19 states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Jersey, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington. The NPS will also boost clean transportation in California’s Yosemite National Park, which will get two hybrid electric buses, while Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts will buy two alternative-fuel trams and trailers.

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