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Officials from the Navy and Georgia Power broke ground Thursday on a 30-megawatt solar plant at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay on the southern coast of Georgia.

Installation of about 136,000 solar photovoltaic panels on 258 acres at the base should be completed by the end of 2016. The groundbreaking marks the fifth Georgia military installation slated to host a new solar farm. Since April, the utility has participated in groundbreakings for 30-megawatt solar photovoltaic arrays at three Army posts in the state — Forts Gordon, Stewart and Benning. In July, the Georgia Public Service Commission approved construction of a 46-megawatt solar plant at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.

At last week’s ceremony, Dennis McGinn, assistant secretary for energy, installations and environment, underscored the project’s significance.

“Energy, the economy, the environment and our national security are bound together; you cannot affect one without affecting the others,” McGinn said, according to a Navy press release. “If energy supplies to our shore installations are not secure, reliable and resilient, we are vulnerable. The new Georgia Power solar facility at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay ensures the base can always be operational and mission ready,” he said.

The project brings the Navy closer to its goal of obtaining one gigawatt of power from renewable sources by the end of 2015. The Navy’s renewable energy projects aim to:

be cost-effective, mission-compatible and leverage third-party financing;
stabilize long-term operational costs; and
be complemented by smart microgrid technology and utility infrastructure upgrades.