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Air Force Academy's Solar Array Will Satisfy 11 Percent Of Energy Needs

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The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, hosted a "switch flippin" ceremony this week, celebrating the Academy's new 30-acre solar array. The panels will generate more than 11 percent of the campus's electric needs and advance the Academy's goal of using 100 percent renewable energy by 2020.

"At the strategic level, a lot of us talk about getting serious about the renewable energy business," said Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould. "We did it. This shows action and leadership at many levels. And it shows our 4,400 cadets -- the reason why we're all here -- what bold leadership is about and what making a commitment and taking action is all about."

The array is expected to produce 12,000 megawatt-hours and save the Academy $1 million annually. California-based Sunpower designed and built the array over a period of about 5.5 months at a cost of about $18 million. Sunpower expects the array to have a 25-year lifetime.

Because of a pre-existing contract with Colorado Springs Utilities, electricity created by the array will first be routed to the utilities company, and then back to the Academy.

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