Marine Squadron 1 gets Georgia-made photovoltaic system

President's helicopter fleet gets solar, but still no solar on the White HouseThe President’s helicopter fleet, Marine Helicopter Squadron 1, got a solar makeover when FLS Energy completed a 120-kilowatt array at the Marine Corps Air Field’s greenside hangar in Quantico, Va.

Though the Obama Administration has yet to fill a pledge to put solar back on the White House, this installation shows the military—and the administration—is increasingly looking to solar to help reduce its long-term energy costs.

The installation uses Suniva, Inc. crystalline silicon modules made in Georgia, which qualifies the project under the Buy America provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which requires governmental entities to use U.S. Made products in certain circumstances. The project also helps the base meet the Navy Secretary’s goal of sourcing 50 percent of the military branch’s energy from renewable resources by 2020. The installation will help the hangar qualify for LEED Silver Certification.

The array is expected to save the site $10,500 a year in annual electric bills.

The installation is the second, and largest, photovoltaic installation at Quantico, according to the Quatico Sentry. The base also has a 20-kilowatt array, which was installed in 2009 on the Marine Corps Marathon Building.

“We’re very excited to have been able to put a solar project on a location like that,” said Tyler Johnson, the company’s director of federal business development.

It’s far from the first installation FLS Energy has done on military bases, Johnson said.

“We’re doing over 2,000 homes worth of solar water heating on military housing,” he said. The Asheville, N.C. company has also installed solar water photovoltaics at other government facilities including Camp Lejune and Fort Bragg, among others.

Installing solar on military bases requires extra measures, including special clearances for companies and the workers, Johnson said. It’s likely that working on a building with ties to the President required extra measures of security, but Johnson said he couldn’t speak about the specifics.

While it’s still short of putting solar on the White House, the installation shows that the Federal government is getting on board with more solar, making it a good market for companies like FLS Energy.

Pictured: FLS Energy Photovoltaic modules on the roof of Marine Helicopter Squadron 1's greenside hangar at Quantico. Photo: Adam Sacora.