Army’s Push to Promote Large-Scale Renewable Projects Hits Stride

Washington, D.C. — After three years, and two weeks from becoming a permanent organization, the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force’s pipeline of prospective projects is essentially full.

The task force, created in September 2011 to bolster the energy security of Army installations and help the service meet federal mandates to shift its reliance toward renewable energy, has identified more viable projects than it has the resources to pursue, Amanda Simpson, executive director of the task force, said Tuesday during a session of the Fifth Annual Federal Energy Workshop and Defense Energy Partnership Forum.

“We have one of the largest and most defined renewable energy project pipelines in the country,” Simpson told attendees at the event sponsored by ADC and the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships.

As of two years ago, the task force had not gone to market with any privately financed, large-scale projects. Today, though, it has 12 in various stages of development and one under construction, accounting for $2.4 billion worth of renewable energy. Those projects will require $900 million in capital investment, a figure the task force is poised to double in two years, Simpson said.

The task force has an additional 14 projects it is evaluating that have not yet been released to industry. Almost all of its projects are located at installations along the nation’s coasts and southern border. The 26 projects under development or due diligence are relatively balanced among the three approaches the task force is relying on to develop new energy sources — General Services Administration area-wide contracts with utilities, power purchase agreements with industry, and enhanced use leases with industry and utilities.

The task force plans to release several requests for proposals in the coming month, and announce the results of several solicitations and two contract awards later this fall.

“We are moving forward as quickly as we can,” Simpson said.

Initially the Army believed it would primarily use power purchase agreements to develop projects, but over the past three years officials discovered that other approaches would allow for quicker transactions, Simpson said.

Speed is critical for developers striving to take advantage of market incentives. In the last three years, the task force has slashed the acquisition timeline by 52 percent, she said. The Office of Energy Initiatives — which the task force will become Oct. 1 — will continue to find ways to bring projects to development faster, Simpson pledged.

Looking ahead, Simpson, who will remain the director of the new office, acknowledged that challenges remain with constrained budgets and asked industry representatives for their continued support surmounting the technical and fiscal difficulties that lay ahead.

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