Army officials cited the estimated cost savings and greater reliance on green energy as two major plusses in celebrating the 65-megawatt, hybrid, renewable energy project that broke ground at Fort Hood Thursday.
“There are a lot of firsts here. It’s the first hybrid project, wind and solar, in the Army; it’s the first to combine onsite and offsite energy; and it is the largest,” said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment. “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.”
The effort will feature a 15.4-megawatt (alternating current) photovoltaic solar plant at Fort Hood and 50.4 megawatts of wind energy from Apex Clean Energy’s Cotton Plains wind energy project on the Texas Panhandle.
Over the course of the 28-year power purchase agreement awarded to Charlottesville, Va.-based Apex, the Army will save up to $168 million, reported Fort Hood Public Affairs.
“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,” said Maj. Gen. John Uberti, III Corps and Fort Hood deputy commanding general.
Saving taxpayers money on energy means more funds will be available to support the warfighter, said Hammack.
“Last year, [the Army’s energy bill] cost us $1.3 billion, and when we look at this project here that is going to save money across the term of the contract for the Army, that is money that we can put elsewhere, to critical missions, and that’s important to us,” she said.
Mark Goodwin, Apex’s president and chief operating officer, explained how the off-post wind farm 350 miles away from Fort Hood would deliver power to the installation.
“We have approximately 20 turbines and they are on a collection string that connects into an interconnection substation and then that connects to the grid,” Goodwin said, “and then we have a partner utility that will take the power from the wind farm and deliver it to the base. So, it is putting power onto the grid and then what Fort Hood is doing, they are reaping the benefit as a big savings in what they are paying now.”