Largest Private-Public Collaboration in Department of Defense History Reflects Commitment to Clean Energy

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  • By 412th Test Wing Public Affairs
  • 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

The 412th Test Wing unveiled a new solar facility on the northwest corner of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Feb. 2. The facility, built in collaboration with Terra-Gen LLC, is a result of the Edwards Solar Enhance Use Lease Project. The novel land management agreement marks the largest private – public partnership within the Department of Defense.

“The Edwards Air Force Base Solar Project is a triple win—it’s good for resilience, it’s good for energy security, and it’s good for the economy,” Andrew Mayock, White House Federal Chief Sustainability Officer, said. “We commend the U.S. Air Force for its leadership and for showing what’s possible when we invest in our nation’s clean energy future.”

Other speakers at the ceremony included Nancy J. Balkus, Deputy Assistant, Secretary of the Air Force in Environment, Safety, and Infrastructure, Jim Pagano, Chief Executive Officer, Terra-Gen LLC and Daniel L. Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, Mortenson.

The facility, which has almost 2 million solar panels installed, can produce up to 1,300 megawatts (MW) of power to the California Independent System Operator grid. This grid is estimated to power over 238,000 homes, displacing more than 320,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually. The solar array itself is the largest project of its kind in U.S. Air Force History.

"The Air Force needs resiliency, reliability and readiness with our energy systems," Brig. Gen. William H. Kale III, Commander, Air Force Civil Engineer Center explained. "We must enhance mission assurance, and we can't do it without energy assurance. I don't care if it's a small modular reactor that we put up in Alaska, geothermal in Wyoming, solar power in New Jersey, or wind power in Massachusetts."

In addition, the solar array aims to lower electricity costs for the civilian workforce, Edwards residents and surrounding communities while providing power grid stability to the local community. The Air Force estimates the project could yield cash rent consideration up to $75.8 million throughout the expected 35-year lease.

Terra-Gen LLC, the partnering renewable energy developer, completed pre-construction due diligence activities that supported Kern County design reviews and project permitting. The Air Force and Terra-Gen’s special purpose entities also executed the first of multiple site development leases authorizing project construction in early 2021.

Under the Air Force’s Enhanced Use Lease program, special purpose entities managed by private developers such as Terra-Gen, LLC, incrementally leased and developed the property in exchange for cash or in-kind consideration at or above fair market value. The new EUL area comprises up to 4,000 acres of non-excess underutilized property at Edwards and surrounding private property. The Air Force Civil Engineer Center, a primary subordinate unit of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, managed the program.

With this substantial project, the United States Air Force seeks to modernize infrastructure and facilities by investing in climate-ready and resilient air and space installations. This project also aligned with broader goals to transition toward clean energy and reduce reliance on carbon energy sources.

You can watch the full Edwards Solar Enhanced Use Lease Project ribbon cutting ceremony below.