New Parking Lot Solar Project Completed at Former Norton Air Force Base

  • Published
  • By Susan Wolbarst
  • AFRPA / PA
A $2.8 million solar project providing shaded parking while generating energy has been completed at the San Bernardino International Airport, located on the former Norton Air Force Base. The project, located across the street from the new terminal, consists of eight modular structures in the airport's parking lot, each of them covered with 336 solar panels.

Energy generated by the project will offset utility bills at the airport terminal. A staff report estimates the new terminal will consume a total of approximately 1.65 million kWh (kilowatt-hours) per year. A kilowatt is 1,000 watts. A kWh is a unit of energy commonly seen on utility bills to show the amount of energy measured in thousands of watts (kilowatts) used over a period of time measured in hours. Using one kilowatt (the amount of energy needed to run a medium-size window air-conditioning unit) of energy for one hour results in a charge for one kilowatt-hour. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, the average U.S. household used 920 kWh a month in 2008.

The new solar installation generated 52,000 kWh during its first month of operation. Live energy production data from the project is available online at Interactive readouts show the amount of energy generated to date; graph solar generation throughout the day (and lack of it during the night); and display the equivalents of the amount of energy generated in tons of saved carbon dioxide, gallons of gas saved and other interesting measurements. Another feature explains how solar works, using graphics and clear

Solar Panel manufacturer Phono Solar of Woodlands, Texas produced the 2,688 panels used in the project. The company forecasts 50MW (Megawatts, each equaling one million watts of energy) of U.S. projects in 2011. The project developer was Premier Solar of Redlands, CA, the successful low bidder on the electrical portion.

Since Norton Air Force Base closed in 1994, the Air Force has spent approximately $60 million to make sure the former base is environmentally safe, well-maintained and suitable for transfer.

The Air Force Real Property Agency (AFRPA) is responsible for remediation and closure at 40 former Air Force installations across the U.S. under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program. In the two decades since the first BRAC in 1988, the Air Force has transferred more than 116 square miles of land (an area twice the size of Washington, D.C.) to local communities for public use. Throughout the transfer process, the Air Force remains committed to protecting human health and the environment.