Pursuit of 1GW Goal Pushes Army to Pick up Pace of Energy Development

The Army’s top energy officials were eager to tout the progress of the service’s three-year-old effort to develop large-scale renewable energy projects with private sector financing. 

Established in September 2011, the Energy Initiatives Task Force has now been redesignated the Office of Energy Initiatives due to its success in putting together what the Army considers the largest renewable energy project pipeline in the country.

“We’d like to see 100 megawatts installed a year,” Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment, told reporters last week. That pace would put the service on course to meet its goal of deploying 1 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2025.  

“Right now the Office of Energy Initiatives is on track and might actually beat that,” Hammack said.

Before the end of the month, the office plans to release requests for proposal for three projects:

  • large-scale solar or wind development in Utah;
  • a combined heat and power facility for solid municipal waste in Alabama; and
  • a hybrid onsite solar and offsite wind project in Texas.

The Army currently has two large-scale projects underway and seven in various stages of the contracting process, said Executive Director Amanda Simpson.

Construction is under way on a solar array at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., slated to be DOD’s largest when it is completed next year. Two weeks ago, the Army awarded a contract for a project that will provide Fort Drum, N.Y., with 100 percent of its onsite energy requirements from power generated by a biomass plant.

The office’s key challenge continues to be its effort to streamline the process of getting large-scale development projects through the federal bureaucracy.

“Industry has their way and the federal government has their way, and the two don’t often match up,” Simpson said. Officials have made tremendous progress, though, trimming the acquisition timeline by 53 percent over the past year.

“I think that’s one of the reasons we’re seeing a lot projects coming out right now,” Simpson said.  

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