NAS Meridian holds groundbreaking ceremony for new solar facility

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - NAS Meridian’s groundbreaking ceremony gave people a chance to see what exactly this new solar facility will bring.

“Well, I think this project must make business sense for our partners but for the navy is what I know most about and it provides us some toughness. Our headquarters talk about resilience and that gives us the ability to still operate. If its stress on the grid, if there’s electrical outages, it enables us to maintain mission continuity,” Commanding Officer Scott Bunnay says.

The facility will generate up to 6 megawatts of current direct power – capable of powering over 1500 homes in one year.

“Solar is a great generation source for electricity for a number of reasons. For one, once you’ve built the facility it’s static, there’s not a lot of moving parts to it and so it has an extremely long useful life,” Matt Kisper says.

The new panels will help naval officer by providing stability and reliability in the toughest of missions.

"We will have dedicated use of that solar energy to keep us operating. We currently have generators that provide a hold installation or backup power, so the solar panels are operating in conjunction with the generator. It's going to extend naval air station meridian's ability to operate under stressful conditions," Bunnay says.

Not only will this benefit the people here at NAS Meridian, but it will provide around 100 jobs while the facility is under construction.

“We’re creating jobs here in the United States, with the companies that are building these facilities. With our company it will be maintaining the facility. So it is truly an economic development project for the community and for the U.S,” Kisper says.

The Department of the Navy (DON), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), East Mississippi Electric Power Association (EMEPA) and Silicon Ranch Corporation (Silicon Ranch) were partners in this project to bring the solar facility to NAS Meridian.

Approximately 51,000 solar panels will be installed.

Construction is expected to be completed by 2018.