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President Obama touts solar energy at tour of Nellis Air Force Base

(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

On his tour today of the photovoltaic array at Nellis Air Force Base, President Obama saw first-hand how solar energy is being used to generate clean electricity supplies – including 25% of the base’s total power.

Located in Las Vegas, NV, the Nellis Air Force Base solar array generates more than 30 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean electricity annually and supplies approximately 25% of the total power used at the base, where 12,000 people live and work.  The solar power system was completed in December 2007, and is America’s largest solar photovoltaic array.

President Obama was led on the tour by Col. Howard D. Belote, the Commander of the 99th Air Base Wing, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Excerpts from President Obama’s speech today:
“Because right now, we’re standing near the largest solar electric plant of its kind in the entire Western Hemisphere — the entire Western Hemisphere. More than 72,000 solar panels built on part of an old landfill provide 25 percent of the electricity for the 12,000 people who live and work here at Nellis. That’s the equivalent of powering about 13,200 homes during the day.

It’s a project that took about half a year to complete, created 200 jobs, and will save the United States Air Force, which is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, nearly $1 million — $1 million a year. It will also reduce harmful carbon pollution by 24,000 tons per year, which is the equivalent of removing 4,000 cars from our roads. Most importantly, this base serves as a shining example of what’s possible when we harness the power of clean, renewable energy to build a new, firmer foundation for economic growth.

Today, projects like the one at Nellis are still the exception to the rule, unfortunately. America produces less than 3 percent of our electricity through renewable sources of energy like wind and solar — less than 3 percent. In contrast, Denmark produces 20 percent of their electricity through wind. We pioneered solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in generating it, even though they get less sun than we do. They certainly get less sun than Nevada.

Nellis Air Force Base installation of over 72,000 Sunpower solar modules

Nellis Air Force Base installation of over 72,000 Sunpower solar modules

So we’ve got a choice. We can remain the world’s leading importer of oil, sending our money and our wealth away, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of clean energy. We can hand over the jobs of the future to our competitors, or we can confront what they’ve already recognized as the great opportunity of our time: The nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st-century global economy. And that’s the nation I want America to be and I know that’s the nation you want America to be.”

For the text of his speech, click here.
The White House briefing document including information on the Nellis Air Force Base installation, click here.