(In the photograph from L to R: Amanda Simpson, executive director, Army Office of Energy Initiatives; Richard G. Kidd, deputy assistant secretary of the Army, Energy and Sustainability; John Conger, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for Energy, Installations and Environment; Rep. John Delaney, Maryland 6th Congressional District; Maj. Gen. Brian C. Lein, commanding general U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Fort Detrick; Hon. Katherine G. Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment; Christy Goldfuss, managing director, White House Council on Environmental Quality; George P. Sakalaras, president and chief CEO Ameresco; Lt. Gen. David D. Halverson, U.S. Army assistant chief of staff for Installation Management and commanding general Installation management Command; and George Atwood, deputy commander Defense Logistics Agency Energy.)
Forrt Detrick and U.S. Army leadership, alongside federal, state and local officials, broke ground on an estimated $35 million dollar project to install solar panels that will provide Fort Detrick with renewable energy on Wednesday, April 1.
The project will include 60,000 solar panels on 67 of the 399 acres of land on Fort Detrick’s Area B. The micro-grid-compatible solar facility will provide approximately 10 percent of Fort Detrick’s energy requirement and will significantly contribute to the Army’s energy security objectives.
Fort Detrick was selected in 2011 as an Army pilot site to become NetZero for energy use by 2020. Under that plan, Fort Detrick aims to create as much energy on post as it consumes. In addition to the solar panel installation, Fort Detrick is also exploring other ways to conserve energy by increasing awareness about turning lights off and unplugging or turning off office equipment when not in use.
“We made a commitment to be a net zero community for energy,” said Maj. Gen. Brian C. Lein, commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Fort Detrick. “The development of this 15 megawatt unit is going to significantly decrease our burden on the local environment, the local power grid and [it] provides sustainable power.”
The project is a milestone for Fort Detrick and the Army as they seek to improve energy efficiency. The Army is currently working more than two dozen projects in 14 states. The projects include solar, wind, biodiesel, biomass and combined heat and power, and are expected to contribute more than 400 megawatts of renewable energy.
“Last year alone, the Army spent over $1.3 billion dollars on facilities energy. In an effort to reduce our dependency, consumption and spending on energy, the Army made a commitment to the President to deploy 1 gigawatt of renewable energy on our installations by the year 2025. This is equivalent to the electricity needed to power approximately 750,000 homes,” said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment. “This project, the second largest solar project to be constructed on an Army installation, is an excellent example of the extraordinary results we can achieve through collaboration. It is a collaborative effort amongst the Army, Fort Detrick and the Defense Logistics Agency – Energy. The Army will continue to partner with the private sector and all key stakeholders to expand renewable energy initiatives on our installations. By working together, we can ensure a more sustainable world for future generations.”
The 15 metawatt solar project on Fort Detrick includes a 25-year electricity purchase agreement between Fort Detrick and Massachusetts-based Ameresco.
“Upon completion a year from now in March 2016 and when operating at peak capacity, the new system will meet approximately 35 percent of Fort Detrick’s peak electric demand. And every year it will generate enough emission-free power to serve 12 percent of Fort Detrick’s total annual electric load requirements,” said George Sakellaris, president and chief executive officer, chairman of the board of directors of Ameresco, Inc. “This system will reduce greenhouse gases by 19,000 metric tons of CO2 per year – the equivalent to carbon sequestered by more than 487,000 trees in a single year.”
These efforts will serve not only the Army, but also state and local community energy needs. Additionally the project will create nearly 60 local construction jobs.
Fort Detrick conducted a Programmatic Environmental Assessment in 2011 to help finalize the plan. Other renewable energy resources, including wind and geothermal, were also considered. The comments received were supportive of the solar panel installation.The project will be fully operational by 2016.