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SolarCity plans 18,000 panels for military in SolarStrong effort

In the second phase of its ambitious SolarStrong project – the country’s single largest effort to cover roofs with solar panels – installation company SolarCity will put more than 18,000 panels on military homes in California and Colorado.

Eventually, SolarStrong plans to outfit 120,000 military residences with solar panels. The undertaking was first launched last year with installations at 2,000 homes in Hawaii.

This time, 850 properties at Los Angeles Air Force Base as well as Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB in Colorado Springs will get the alternative energy treatment.

Together, the panels will generate more than 6.4 million kilowatt hours per year, offsetting up to 60% of the electricity the homes would normally use, according to SolarCity.

The installation aims to alleviate the burden on the Defense Department, which is the largest energy consumer in the country. SolarCity is partnering with Lend Lease, an Australian property management company that has already set up several other major solar communities and so-called zero energy military homes.

The $1-billion SolarStrong effort has been scaled back since it was initially announced in September, when it aimed to put panels on 160,000 homes. But SolarCity has plenty on its plate, including an upcoming initial public offering.

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