Vandenberg Air Force Base in California gets environmentally-friendly upgrades including a 180-acre solar energy facility and unique water-saving equipment.
Solar panels stretch end to end spanning as far as the eye can see, absorbing sunlight and softly humming as they generate power on the 180-acre solar energy facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The facility, dedicated during a ceremony April 10, is a joint effort between Defense Logistics Agency Energy, VAFB 30th Space Wing, SunPower Corp. and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center.
“We understand the importance of energy and the need for reliable and resilient power on our military installations,” said Frank Rechner, DLA Energy deputy director of Supplier Operations during the ceremony. “As of Jan. 8, this direct-current solar array became fully operational and producing electricity. This is the largest Air Force solar project in which all the energy is consumed by the base.”
DLA Energy Installation Energy is responsible for awarding the 25-year contract for the new 28-megawatt solar photovoltaic system that spans roughly 163 football playing fields and generates enough electricity to meet approximately 35 percent of the base’s energy needs.
The facility is expected to provide 54,500 megawatt hours of energy annually – equivalent to offsetting carbon dioxide emissions from 8,600 cars for one year according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“A veteran in the solar industry with more than 30 years in business, we were honored to serve as the solar advisor, designer and installer on this project,” said David McIlhenny, SunPower Vice President for Project Finance. “The Vandenberg Air Force Base project features our Oasis power plant technology, a fully integrated, modular solar power blocksystem engineered to optimize land use, and with a long-term contract for below-retail cost of power, we’re generating savings that can be redirected to other priorities on post over the long term.”
The solar energy production facility is tied directly into the base’s power grid and is behind the meter so all solar energy generated is consumed on site. Vandenberg AFB will purchase the electricity generated under a 25-year renewable energy supply agreement.
Built on a former base housing site, the vacant land was a prime opportunity to implement a life cycle cost-effective renewable energy project that builds energy security and resiliency of the military base while at the same time saving taxpayer money.
“Being part of this multi-faceted project team supporting Vandenberg has been a significant step forward in executing other efforts across the Department of Defense,” Rechner said. “Together, as a team, we look forward to the supply and delivery of reliable and resilient solar power to Vandenberg Air Force Base for the next 25 years.”
DLA Energy Installation Energy offers acquisition support for facility energy requirements such as coal, natural gas, electricity, renewable energy credit purchases, long-term renewable energy project development and other energy savings performance initiatives.
Flush ‘n’ Fresh
Seeing water go down the drain is one thing, but watching it gush down storm drains – especially in a drought – is another thing.
In an effort to conserve water on Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, Defense Logistics Agency Energy Utility Services awarded a 50-year performance contract to American Water Operations and Maintenance, Inc. for a Neutral Output Discharge Elimination System, or NO-DES, water main flushing system.
“A typical potable drinking water main flushing system can waste about 22,500 gallons of water,” said Chris Wilkinson, president of NO-DES, Inc. “All but about 150 gallons emptied from water hoses at the end of the job are conserved with NO-DES.”
In contrast to standard industry practice of dumping water flushed from a potable system during annual cleaning, NO-DES uses a pump to circulate drinking water through the main pipes where it passes through a series of filters which remove sediment and particulate matter, including bio-film. The procedure also scours the pipes to reduce nitrification inducing deposits and improve water quality.
“This system not only cleans the water system pipes but also cleans and treats the drinking water so that it stays within the system,” said DLA Energy Contract Specialist Ralph Neely. “Due to critical water shortages in the state of California, this is superb water conservation for the Air Force and is a tool that demonstrates environmental leadership.”
The innovative water conservation system is part of DLA Energy Utility Services’ efforts to privatize utilities on U.S. military bases to build energy security and resiliency while at the same time saving taxpayer money.
“Utilities privatization is a method by which military installations can obtain safe, reliable, technologically current and environmentally sound utility systems at a relatively lower cost than they would under continued government ownership,” said DLA Energy Utility Services Director Martha Gray. “In the privatization process, military installations shift from the role of owner operators to that of smart utility service customers.”
Since the contract began at Vandenberg AFB June 1, 2016, AWO&M has utilized the NO-DES unit to clean 27.87 miles of waterlines saving approximately 2.2 million gallons of water.
“Over the course of the 50-year contract, this will provide considerable savings,” Neely said. “AWO&M is working with the base to expand the number of connection points for the NO-DES to save even more water, improve water quality and keep the assets in tip-top condition.”
Although NO-DES is not a government requirement, it is a solution proposed by AWO&M for Vandenberg to not only conserve water but to improve the base water quality, eliminate National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System issues and eventually pay for itself.
Installations seeking to upgrade utility systems must follow the Department of Defense utility privatization guidelines as well as those found in the Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 15 as negotiated best value procurements.
DLA Energy supports military service partners by offering specialized contracting and technical expertise for utility services concerns.