FORT HOOD, Texas –
Defense Logistics Agency Energy and other stakeholders broke ground Jan. 28 on the Army’s first-ever hybrid solar and wind energy project, made possible through a contract awarded Jan. 15 by DLA Energy.
The ceremony, held on a sunny, windy day at Fort Hood in central Texas, marked the beginning of the largest renewable energy project in the Army to date.
“Any time the phrase ‘Department of Defense first’ is used, you can bet your bottom dollar the risks, rewards and efforts are huge,” said DLA Energy Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod. “That's exactly the case at Fort Hood with on- and off-site wind and solar and conventional supplemental electricity.”
He congratulated the DLA Energy Installation Energy acquisition team, as well as the contractor Apex Clean Energy, Inc., and the U.S. Army partners for bringing this 15-month effort to fruition.
DLA Energy Installation Energy Director Pam Griffith, who attended on behalf of the commander, said in her remarks that the commitment from the Army to integrate renewable energy resources into its portfolio is clear, and DLA Energy continues to be a team partner in helping the Army shape its large-scale renewable energy portfolio.
“The Fort Hood effort represents our third contract award in the last 15 months in support of the Army’s energy strategy for its installations,” Griffith said. “This was the first project to integrate both on- and off-site generation from two different technologies. It’s also the first to include electricity from conventional resources that will supplement the renewable energy to ensure Fort Hood’s energy demand will be satisfied.”
The project will include both an on-post solar farm and an off-site wind turbine farm, which has the capacity to generate 65 megawatts of electricity for the installation, saving taxpayer money during the duration of the contract.
Army Maj. Gen. John Uberti, III Corps and Fort Hood deputy commanding general, said over the course of the contract awarded by DLA Energy the Army will avoid paying approximately $168 million.
“Not only will we gain a sustainable energy source, supplying nearly half of our energy needs, but it will be at a lower price than the power generated by fossil fuels,” Uberti said. “It is fitting that the largest project of this type is at Fort Hood, because as I’m learning, everything in Texas is big.”
Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army, Installations, Energy and Environment, agreed. “There’re a lot of firsts here. It’s the first hybrid project, wind and solar, in the Army. It’s the first to combine on-site and off-site energy. And it is the largest,” Hammack said. “As was said, everything is bigger in the state of Texas, so right now Texas has the distinction of contributing the most to renewable energy in the Army.”
Rep. John Carter of Texas’ 31st congressional district said there are additional benefits to the venture. “Using renewables makes sense on ... military posts throughout the country,” Carter said. “More importantly, and what we’re all about here at Fort Hood, it frees up money to be able to make better soldiers here on Fort Hood. So, if it’s cheaper energy, it gives us more money in our pockets to spend on training up the best warriors in world.”
Hammack noted the federal government is the largest energy user in the United States and that the Army is the largest facility energy user. She added that the future looks bright with many more projects similar to this one to launch Army-wide.