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|Marines Site Solar Arrays Above Old Box Canyon Landfill||| Print ||
By Alison St John,
The Navy is building one of the largest photovoltaic systems in San Diego County funded by federal stimulus money. The solar project is sited on top of an old landfill on Camp Pendleton, known as the Box Canyon Landfill.
For the ground breaking ceremony, the Marines had to bring in a pile of dirt, because they could not put a shovel in the ground.
Captain Mike Williamson is in charge of new construction at Marine Installations West. He said putting the photovoltaic system on top of a land fill that has been capped off and cannot be disturbed did present a challenge, but it’s a good use of a large site that can’t be used for other purposes.
“When it’s completed,” he said, “it will be the largest Marine Corps photovoltaic system in existence.”
Williamson said the project went through months of environmental review. More than 6,000 solar panels will cover 6 acres.
Charles Howell, resource efficiency manager for the base, says the photovoltaic system will provide almost 1.5 mega watts of renewable energy, enough to provide electricity to power 400 homes. He said it’s part of the Navy’s effort to meet a self imposed goal of generating 25 percent of their energy with renewable resources by 2025.
Colonel Gary Storey, head of energy management at Camp Pendleton, said federal stimulus money allowed them to develop their plans faster than expected.
“This system, when it goes on line, hopefully in December, will effectively triple or quadruple the photovoltaic we’re generating on this base in one fell swoop,” he said, “and we actually have a follow-up project next year to double that capacity on this site.”
A San Diego company, Synergy Electric, won the $9 million contract to build the system. Owner Diane Keltner explained that, to avoid disturbing the earth, the solar panels will be attached to frames anchored by massive concrete blocks, set in beds of gravel on the ground. She believes the design is likely to catch on, as people realize the panels can be installed without affecting the ground beneath.
“Once it’s up and people see what’s going on here,” she said, “I think the phone will be ringing.”