Fort McCoy received energy credits of more than $4,000 in September and $3,600 in October as part of a program to purchase solar-generated energy, said Fort McCoy Energy Manager Michael Kelley with the Directorate of Public Works (DPW).

The installation participates in a new program with Xcel Energy called Solar Connect Community, which is a centrally located solar photovoltaic panel array owned by Xcel that provides electricity to participating subscribers.

"Xcel Energy is constructing two solar photovoltaic panel arrays in the area, each capable of producing 1 megawatt of electricity," Kelley said. "Subscribers may purchase up to 400 kilowatts ... receive a monthly credit on their electric bill. Fort McCoy entered into an agreement with Xcel in September 2016 to subscribe to the maximum 400 kilowatts allowable."

Kelley said the arrays will produce enough electricity to offset about 1.5 percent of the total annual electric usage on post.

"Annual credits are expected to be about $35,000," Kelley said. "And even though the Wisconsin-based arrays are not fully online yet, Xcel began issuing credits in September 2017 for power generated at one of its facilities in Minnesota and will continue until such time as the facilities in Wisconsin open."

The exact September credit amount the installation received was $4,119.04, which represented 59,696.30 kilowatt hours of electricity produced during August, or 1.8 percent of total electric usage for the month on post, Kelley said. The exact October credit amount was $3,600.89, or 52,186.87 kilowatt hours.

According to Xcel Energy, the two Wisconsin solar array gardens will be set up in Eau Claire and Cashton, and a third garden is also being considered in northern Wisconsin.

"As these arrays become fully operational, Fort McCoy will receive credits based on their output," Kelley said.

In addition to the solar energy buy-in, Fort McCoy also continues to incorporate solar energy systems throughout the installation. Solar-power additions at Fort McCoy include pedestrian-crossing and stop signs with flashing LED lights.

There's also SolarWall-brand transpired solar collectors installed on five buildings on post.

"These (collectors) were installed in 2013 on three of the maintenance buildings - 761, 1762, and 1763 - as well as the new Central Issue Facility (building 780) and Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facility (building 3049)," Kelley said. The sun strikes the panels mounted on the south face of each building and heats the air in the gap between the panels and the building.

"The heated air is then drawn into the building," Kelley said. "This lessens the load on the building furnace, as the air it's required to heat has already been preheated. We have documented some cost savings from the SolarWall."

There are also more than 70 latrines on the Range Complex powered or heated by solar photovoltaic panels as well as other systems that require low energy intake, Kelley said.

"We're always looking at ways that renewable energy can contribute to our energy savings at Fort McCoy," Kelley said. "Though our use of solar power is not as large as some areas, it is a part of many of our energy-savings initiatives at many areas throughout the post. We will continue to look at solar energy inclusion into our installation energy use plan."

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