By Lisa Ferdinando, ARNEWSApril 25, 2014
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 25, 2014) -- The Army hosted a groundbreaking Friday at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., for the largest solar array on a U.S. military installation.
The array is expected to provide about 25 percent of the annual electricity requirement for the installation, which is nestled in the mountains of southeast Arizona, about 15 miles from the Mexican border.
Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, said the post is a role model for other installations.
Fort Huachuca will receive the green energy under an existing contract through General Services Administration with Tucson Electric Power, Hammack said. The Army is providing an easement for the solar array to be built on the base.
Since the energy is part of an existing contract, the change from brown to green power will be at no incremental cost to the Army, Hammack said, noting that all around, this is a "smart decision" for the Army and the nation.
"We're doing the right thing for the mission, enhancing mission effectiveness; it's the right thing for the environment; it's the right thing for the community and it's the right thing for the utility," Hammack said.
The Fort Huachuca Renewable Energy Project is a joint effort between the U.S. Army Energy Initiatives Task Force , Fort Huachuca, General Services Administration, Tucson Electric Power, and developer E.ON Climate and Renewables.
The project leverages private financing and is expected to exceed 18-megawatts of clean power. The solar panels are to be installed on a 155-acre parcel of land on base.
Maj. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, commanding general of Fort Huachuca, said the project enhances energy security, conserves resources, and protects the pristine environment around Fort Huachuca. He hopes other bases follow suit.
"We're very excited about this project; we're excited about the attention it will garner and equally excited about what we'll be able to do in terms of the environment and being responsible stewards of resources here for Arizona," he said.
The panels are expected to offset 58,000 tons of carbon annually, while saving Tucson Electric Power two million gallons of water, Ashley said.
Tucson Electric Power is financing, installing and operating the project. The array is expected to be installed in six to eight months.
"Fort Huachuca has stepped out and made a very strong commitment to being resilient," said Hammack.
She said with this commitment to energy security, Fort Huachuca is enhancing its mission and ensuring that the mission is able to continue "long into the future."
Besides, with this project being the largest on a U.S. military installation, Hammack joked that it also gives the general something to boast about, especially since the Army is a very competitive place.
"Bragging rights are one of the great things about doing the right thing for the right reasons that we have out there," she said.
Fort Huachuca is the home of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Army Signal Command. Located in Cochise County, Fort Huachuca was annexed in 1971, by the city of Sierra Vista, and was declared a national landmark in 1976.
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