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DEFENSE COMMUNITIES 360

Army to Strengthen Industry Partnering Effort for Renewable Energy Projects

  • August 10, 2011
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The Army is establishing a headquarters task force to lead its efforts to partner with the private sector to develop large-scale renewable energy projects, a move officials believe will accelerate the service’s transition toward the use of alternative energy sources.

Army Secretary John McHugh announced the creation of the Energy Initiatives Office (EIO) Task Force Wednesday at the GovEnergy conference in Cincinnati.

The task force will centralize what to date often have been far-flung efforts to develop energy projects launched by installation commanders. The task force also will allow the Army for the first time to focus on large-scale projects. A total of 127 renewable energy projects have been built at Army installations, but they are all small in size, said Alan King, who will lead the task force’s project execution branch.

To meet the military’s mandate to acquire 25 percent of its electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2025, the Army needs to move toward large-scale projects, King told 360.

The task force will focus on on-site, large-scale renewable energy generation that can mitigate mission risk stemming from service disruptions due to a reliance on an aging and vulnerable electric grid.

One key benefit of setting up a “one-stop shop” in Washington will be its ability to pull together much-needed expertise in large-scale projects that installations lack. The task force will provide expertise in identifying and evaluating technologies, negotiating with utilities, and managing the construction, operation and maintenance of projects.

The task force also will work within the Army to streamline existing acquisition processes and conduct an aggressive outreach effort to private industry to foster strategic, technical, and financial investment in the Army’s renewable energy program. Officials believe this will result in increased interest from developers and improved financial options for the service.

Equally important, the new initiative will provide the startup funding that individual installations now lack for getting renewable energy projects off the ground, King said.

The service projects it will consume about 10 million megawatt hours of power annually by 2025, obliging it to acquire more than 2 million megawatt hours from renewable sources. That level of renewable energy production will require private sector investment of up to $7.1 billion over the next 10 years, the Army estimates.

‘We’ve Got the Land and the Demand’

The task force will be fully operational by Sept. 15. Initially it will have a staff of 15 employees from across the Army, but as the workload increases, the staff will grow, King said.

The task force will leverage the existing agreement between DOD and the Department of Energy (DOE) by relying on the expertise and resources of DOE, the National Renewable Energy Lab and other DOE labs.

Over the next several months, the task force will reach out to installation commanders to explain the service’s new approach to developing energy projects, according to King. Ultimately, the Army may reach its goal through the development of no more than 20 large-scale projects. Not every installation will need a project, he said.

The task force plans to start executing new projects in 2012. For more information, visit the EIO Task Force website.

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