OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A big project got underway Wednesday at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in southwest Oklahoma City.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a solar panel array that is supposed to help offset energy costs.

Soon, a roughly 6.5-acre field on the grounds of the center will be home to about 3,800 solar panels.

Solar panel groundbreaking at Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center

“This is just a great benefit for the state and great for the FAA and also across the whole Department of Transportation,” said Michelle Coppedge, director of the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center.

The solar project is the FAA’s largest to date and is part of their renewable energy program.

“This will continue to promulgate a sustainable future for our community and our country, and we appreciate that,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt.

The Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center is a campus used for aviation training, research, and aircraft maintenance among other things with about 6,300 federal employees, contractors and students. The project is expected to offset their energy costs.

“It’s about the equivalent of 260 homes, and it can range all the way up to about 320 homes worth of electricity,” Coppedge said.

Coppedge said the project is slated to save the center and campus about $200,000 per year in energy costs to start.

“The energy costs, as we see across the nation, is rising,” Coppedge said. “So, those figures are actually changing daily and it’s going to go up.”

Officials with the center, FAA and the project hope this is something that will help others grow beyond just the campus in southwest Oklahoma City.

“We’re very committed to continuing our efforts in sustainability and conservation,” said Corey Black, director of the Office for Facilty Management. “Our precious natural resources to keep our operating costs low for a better sustainable future.”

“We set our goals really high,” Coppedge said. “We actually set them higher than the federal mandates and I think that’s been a big key to our success.”

Construction on the project is set to begin soon.

The center has been given the Department of Transportation’s sustainability achievement award for 7 consecutive years for this project among several other including electric vehicles and recycling.