Skip to comments.Groundbreaking celebrates saving with sunshine. Military's largest solar array being built on fort
Posted on 04/26/2014 7:49:22 AM PDT by SandRat
FORT HUACHUCA A groundbreaking ceremony for a $40 million, 65,000 solar panel array, which will be the largest at any Department of Defense military installation, took place on this southern Arizona Army post Friday morning.
Assistant Secretary of the Army, Katherine Hammack, said it is appropriate the event took place during the week of Earth Day, in effect making Friday a green letter day because of the forts special Renewable Energy Project.
For Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley the electric-generating project is more than a way to save the Army money the estimated annual electric bill for the fort is $10 million but will eliminate 58,0000 tons of carbon being spewed into the air, as well of reduce water use by Tucson Electric Power by two million gallons a year.
Additionally, the solar array adds to the resiliency of the post, allowing for more missions in the future, said Ashley, the commander of the Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca.
Hammack said the Army has been involved in seeking projects like the one which will operate on the post, keeping its pledge to reduce energy costs.
Her functions as an assistant Army secretary is monitoring installations, energy and environmental issues.
By decreasing energy costs, money can be used for other critical Army needs, which in effect will provide two positives protecting the environment and the nation, she said.
She and Ashley were two of seven speakers before symbolic shovel loads of dirt were turned on a field which Hammack noted has had a number of uses during the forts 139-year history. During World War II the site was an obstacle course for two divisions of black soldiers preparing for combat.
The Army is providing an easement of 68 acres to Tucson Electric Power, which has been serving the post for more than 70 years.
Hammack said the ability to allow a private company to use government land means there is no need to purchase or lease property, which is a major cost savings.
But, its not a government giveaway, because the Army receives a lot in savings, she said.
David Hutchens agrees, saying TEP considers the fort one of its best customers. He is the president of UniSource Energy Corporation and TEP, which has a number of solar arrays elsewhere, mainly in the Tucson area.
TEP is working with E.ON Climate & Renewables, North American, on the fort project, Hutchens said.
The electric company is paying the entire $40 million project cost and will have a 30-year easement on the fort. E.ON is a German-based international energy company.
The project site where which the first phase of 58,000, 4-foot by 6-foot panels, will be installed is not far from the forts Main Gate and near the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre, where the ceremony took place.
The switch to solar-generated electricity is expected to take place by the end of the year Hutchens said, adding the second phase will add 7,000 more panels.
Hammack noted for a government project, putting it together from concept to groundbreaking was rapid.
Ruth Cox, regional administrator for the General Services Administration noted that this is GSAs first solar project.
It was last summer when GSA was approached and today we are taking a significant step forward, Cox said.
And now that GSA has become involved she said, we will be collaborating with others.
Waiting to begin the work was Steven Trenholm, president of E.ON in North America, who said the Armys vision of renewable energy is very appealing.
Also at the event was Amanda Simpson, the executive director of the Armys Energy Initiatives Task Force, who noted Fort Huachuca is extremely special.
The project on the post will provide, but not store, electricity, and will have enough to meet the forts daylight peak demand, which is 23 megawatts.
At night, or when the array is not producing enough power, the fort will tap into TEPs regular lines.
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, whose congressional district includes the fort and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, said the desire to utilize Arizonas sun-generating power, began with his predecessor, congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
Barber said he will now have bragging rights in Congress because the two largest defense solar arrays are in his district. Currently the largest array is at the Tucson air base, but when the forts comes on line, it will be number one in size.
Since Arizona has sunlight 330 days a year it is only natural the state should become the leader in solar energy, Barber said, as investing in the technology is not only logical but smart in saving federal dollars.
Also, he said how the Army is leading when it comes to renewable energy and how, in the case of the fort, working with other government agencies and civilian businesses is something which should be emulated.
In Congress we dont do that, meaning work together, he said during a press conference in the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre.
Hammack also pick up on Ashleys resiliency comment he made earlier saying the energy project will benefit missions into the future.
The general said, there is no doubt, the post will garner more attention by a project like this.
So is this a Reid project or McCain?
Better there than Bemidji, Minnesota.
When I see them p!ssing away money like this I sometimes wonder WTH I’m not bellying up to the bar myself.
This solar project along with Muslim outreach programs are much better than training to kill and break things. (Is that little sarcasm tag really needed?)
Harry Reid was big in getting his son into Chinese solar expansion in Nevada so I expect he jumped the border. Soon they will be forcing solar up Mexico's.
Not every Aerospace Eng designs missiles.
“...more than a way to save the Army money....”
Bet they don’t.
Not every Aerospace Eng designs missiles.
Correct, but in this case Raytheon does build missiles just 40 miles away from this solar site....:^)
Cost of each panel averages over $615.
My Son MissleMan does.
But, but what about its effect on the beaded Gila Monster?
And the constant year round maintenance courtesy of the Maintenance Fairy?
Question! Are/were these solar panels fabricated in China? I tend towards believing there is a link between all this land grabbing and financial debt the USA owes to China, most of which I think is the result of wheeling-dealing of the Clinton’s and Obama and his enablers. The stench of all this goes all the way down to state levels but our elected reps haven’t the nose for it.
Having spent many years as a civilian engineer and just as many as an aerospace engineer working with other engineers my take is that there is a double speak as to being an aerospace engineer.