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Navy Signs Lease to Build Renewable Energy Solution in Norco

June 2, 2020

Editor's Note: From Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) signed a lease, May 27, with developer Bright Canyon Energy (BCE) to construct and operate a 2.5-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic system with 2.5-MW battery storage capacity on approximately 8.3 acres of land at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach (NWSSB) Detachment Norco.

The project will achieve a key milestone in the Navy’s pursuit of a new resilient energy solution, which will supply clean, renewable energy to a key installation in Southern California and the local grid.

Home to the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona, NWSSB Norco houses Naval Sea Systems Command testing and manufacturing equipment, which are vital to Department of the Navy (DoN) operations. Secure power at NWSSB Norco is critical to capture and analyze mission-related information and ensure that the equipment is not damaged.

The project will fortify the installation against future power outages, which could cause equipment to malfunction and data loss greatly impacting their support to the Fleet. The solar power and battery storage system will provide backup in the event of an outage and will allow the site to continue operations unimpeded.

The Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) permits BCE to sell the electricity generated to the local grid, with the Navy installation receiving backup power during an off-base grid outage.

“This project will have very significant and long-lasting benefits, ensuring energy security for our Norco base and the NSWC Corona mission while supplying clean renewable energy to the surrounding community… it is very rewarding to see it finally come to fruition,” said Capt. Jason Sherman, NWSSB commanding officer.

The solar power generated aligns with the state’s goal to achieve 100% clean, zero-emission energy sources for the state’s electrical needs by the year 2045.

As in-kind consideration (IKC) for the EUL, BCE will provide NWSSB Norco with a new, autonomously controlled microgrid sized to provide full backup power to the installation for extended periods. BCE also will deliver voltage and frequency support during normal grid operations, as well as operation, maintenance and testing for the microgrid and the existing Navy-owned 1.25-MW backup diesel generator.

“The EUL is an essential capability to realize electrical power resilience aboard the installation, a foundational requirement for providing Fleet readiness data analytics,” said Capt. Khary Hembree-Bey, NSWC Corona commanding officer. “Leveraging third-party capital to improve the property with a commercially viable enterprise, while simultaneously providing electrical power resilience, is beneficial for both industry and the Department of Navy.”

The new generation and IKC will increase energy security, resilience, and reliability on the installation, the three key pillars of the DoN’s Installation Energy Resilience Strategy, released in February.

“The lease will deliver the Norco base critical infrastructure that will provide an autonomous, uninterrupted power supply during an outage, plus the ability to restore electric power operation without relying on the external grid to recover from a total or partial shutdown,” said John Kliem, executive director of the DoN’s recently-established Acquisition Modernization Office (AMO). “This is all at no additional cost to the installation. This is an amazing deal and is another example of how NAVFAC is creatively executing authorities to achieve mission-critical goals at the installation level while preserving Congressionally-appropriated funds for naval operations support.” AMO, part of NAVFAC, works to leverage partnerships with the private sector and public entities to rapidly pursue non-traditional solutions to infrastructure, utility, and base operating support requirements.

The Norco lease signing is the second in a series of EULs AMO and NAVFAC Southwest are working with the BCE team that started with a successfully completed project at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma. BCE’s affiliate, Arizona Public Service Company, provided the Marine Corps’ premiere aviation training base with backup power and automated switching, which has resulted in the mitigation of over 120 power disruptions, directly improving MCAS Yuma’s mission readiness.

NWSSB Norco expects commercial operation of the new solar and battery energy storage system by December 2023.

NAVFAC Southwest personnel support our clients with services in planning, design, construction, real estate, environmental and public works support for U.S. Navy shore facilities, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, and other federal agencies in California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado.

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