Alabama Power completes solar array at ANAD
From left, Anniston Army Depot Chief of Staff Phil Trued, Alabama Power Company Eastern Division Vice President Julia Segars, Army Materiel Command Executive Deputy to the Commanding General Lisha Adams and Army Office of Energy Initiatives Executive... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The depot and its partners for the solar energy project cut the ribbon on the array of solar panels April 21.

As Michael McGhee, the executive director for the Army's Office of Energy Initiatives noted, it was an appropriate moment for the week of Earth Day.

"Remember, energy strong is Army strong," said McGhee.

The project is one of many completed through OEI and brings their portfolio of renewable energy programs to 500 megawatts, about half of the one gigawatt OEI hopes to produce through renewable energy by 2025.

The solar array here is a collaboration between Anniston Army Depot; Alabama Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company; the Office of Energy Initiatives; the General Services Administration; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Mission and Installation Contracting Command. It is expected to produce seven megawatts of electricity.

According to the John Kelley, the director of Forecasting and Resources for Alabama Power, enough energy will be produced to power approximately 1,000 homes.

ANAD Chief of Staff Phil Trued remarked that the multi-year project was additional proof of the depot's capability to work with private and public entities.

"It's been a great team effort and a positive experience working with these external partners," he said.

Trued acknowledged not only the depot's goal of energy security, but also the Army's objectives regarding renewable energy.

"This project is just one more step to reach the depot and the Army's renewable energy goals and achieve energy security," he said.

Strata Solar installed the utility-scale solar project at the depot and a similar one at Fort Rucker, the first of their kind for Alabama Power.

The utility company developed, financed, designed and coordinated installation of the solar power structures, an investment of $50 million. APC will own, operate and maintain the large-scale renewable energy project.

"We are responding to what our customers want and need," said Kelley.

The 87,000 solar panels installed on 90 acres at the depot are currently in a testing phase.

Eventually, energy generated by the project will flow back into APC's power grid.

The solar array will be a step toward energy security for the depot, which the Office of Energy Initiatives said is a driving factor behind renewable energy projects.

While the power generated will not be enough to make the installation an energy island, it may one day be able to power two of the depot's three power substations on a sunny day, according to Brian Freeman, a mechanical engineer for DPW.

The project to store power for the depot's use in an emergency and switch power from flowing to the APC grid to sustaining the installation is a potential future project, according to McGhee.