29 June 2016
Fort Detrick solar panels
Fort Detrick Solar Panel Project Opens
Nick Minecci, USAG Public Affairs
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held June 17 to mark the opening of a nearly 60,000-panel solar array, spread over 67 acres on Fort Detrick. The power generated from the project provides Fort Detrick with 15 megawatts of electricity, which is 12 percent of the power used on the installation, and is expected to provide nearly $3 million in cost avoidance over the duration of the 25-year electricity purchase agreement the Army has with the project’s private developer and owner.

During a ceremony held at the Fort Detrick Auditorium, Col. Robert O’Brien, the U.S. Army Garrison commander, was joined by officials from the Army, DOD and private industry to celebrate the opening of the solar array. The panels took approximately a little over a year to build.

The Fort Detrick solar project is the result of a collaborative partnership between the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives, Fort Detrick, the Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Ameresco, Inc., and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, said the installation of the solar panels is critical; not just because of the cost savings, but because it allows Fort Detrick to accomplish its national defense mission without relying on outside sources for power.

“This project is an excellent example of the extraordinary results we can achieve through collaboration,” said Hammack. “Renewable energy produced on Army installations increases energy security, which is essential to mission effectiveness.”

Hammack said the Department of Defense uses more electricity than any other department, and of that, the Army uses about 35 percent, making the Army is the single largest user of electricity within the entire federal government.

“Last year alone, our facilities consumed over $1.3 billion dollars of facility energy,” explained Hammack. “Recognizing that, we need to be more resilient and we need to manage our cost. We made a commitment to the president of deploying 1 gigawatt of renewable energy on our installations by 2025.”.

So far, the Army has achieved 12 percent across the total force in renewables generation and Hammack said she doesn’t see a problem reaching the 25 percent renewables goal.

“We’re going to beat that. We’re going to do more than that,” said Hammack.
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