FORT CARSON, Colo. — Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installation, Energy and Environment Rachel Jacobson visited Fort Carson July 26-27, 2022, to assess installation management and effectiveness and toured Fort Carson and Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site to see the conditions of facilities, infrastructures and energy programs.
Jacobson is the 17th assistant secretary of the Army for Installation, Energy and Environment. She is the primary adviser to the secretary of the Army and chief of staff of the Army on all matters related to Army installation policy, oversight and coordination of energy security and management. In addition, she also oversees policy and sustainability and environmental initiatives.
Jacobson and members of the White House met the garrison command team and Joe Wyka, director of Public Works, for an initial brief about Fort Carson’s energy and sustainability focus projects before the tour.
“I was able to accompany our visitors from the White House on the tour of innovative energy initiatives Fort Carson’s outstanding team has been implementing,” said Jacobson. “We had three representatives from the White House who specifically came here to learn about Fort Carson’s energy plans. They left that experience by saying ‘this should be the prototype of how we should approach energy and how we can apply this government wide.’”
Some of the energy-and-sustainability focused projects are the aeroderivative gas generator partnership with Colorado Springs Utilities and the Battery Energy Storage System, future site of Flow Battery project. Jacobson was also briefed on the way-ahead for Fort Carson electrical vehicle and installation climate resiliency plan.
The aeroderivative gas generator is a project with Colorado Springs Utilities that will redirect power to Fort Carson during a major grid outage. The 22 acres will house 30-megawatt aeroderivative gas turbines that are expected to be installed and operational in 2025-2026.
The Battery Energy Storage System is the largest peak energy shaving battery within the Department of Defense. It will save Fort Carson more than $500,000 per year over the next 20 years. BESS was developed in partnership with the Corps of Engineers, Colorado Springs Utilities and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is currently tasked with demand charge reduction, which could increase the resilience at the site.
The Flow Battery project that kicked off in June 2022 with the Corps of Engineers Civil Engineering Research Laboratory and Lockheed Martin will be two tanks and four connex boxes that will equal 10 megawatts. The Flow Battery will peak shave and help resiliency in the future.
Fort Carson electric vehicle charging stations are scheduled to be installed in motor pool areas for GSA and government owned vehicles. The project is in partnership with the Corps of Engineers and in-house teams.
“I can hold Fort Carson up as a model for partnerships, after seeing the great energy work you are doing in partnership with the Colorado Springs Utilities,” said Jacobson. “Very impressive, along with the other partnerships Fort Carson has in place to help maintain the quality of life here on post.”
Jacobson also had the opportunity to receive a flyover of Fort Carson and the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. During the flyover of Fort Carson, Jacobson was briefed about the ongoing housing project while flying over the Cherokee West Village demolition site, which will make room for 239 new homes.
Additionally, on the way to PCMS, she was briefed about the capabilities of training areas and ranges.
“One of the main reasons for the visit to Fort Carson was to better understand the housing challenges so that we can help address them,” said Jacobson. “I have a much better understanding of how we can help the team improve the quality of life here on Fort Carson.”
Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site is a training site for Fort Carson and other local military services. The 236,000-acre training site was purchased by the Army in the mid-80s. There are several historical ranch houses still on the training site, to include Brown Sheep Ranch. Jacobson was able to visit the preserved Brown Sheep Ranch and witness the sheepherders’ cowboy art on the walls from when the ranch was functional. Rocks scattered all over Piñon Canyon can be found with markings telling the story of the native tribes that roamed those lands.
“It’s important for her to see the capabilities of Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site and how we can enhance it and move to the future,” said Mike Camp, Fort Carson range officer.
During a briefing, Jacobson was shown the plans on how PCMS operates.
“It was an incredible experience to tour Piñon Canyon,” said Jacobson.
After the two-day visit with Fort Carson professionals, Jacobson left with a more in-depth understanding on how Fort Carson runs and the overall mission of the Mountain Post.
“There is only so much you can read about a place online, but when I arrived here, so much was a surprise,” said Jacobson.
During her visit Jacobson was able to recognize garrison employees for their hard work and dedication to Fort Carson and the Army.
“It was especially rewarding to recognize so many garrison employees for their incredible programs, for their dedication, and for all the exceptional work they do for the installation and for the Army,” said Jacobson.
She presented each employee who was recognized with her coin of excellence.
“They (garrison employees) make it really easy to succeed,” said Col. Sean M. Brown, garrison commander. “People want to come here, and people want to stay here; it’s not hard to attract talent, especially when they are passionate about what they do.”
Jacobson said she gained a much better appreciation of Fort Carson and its dedicated professionals.
“I’ve learned so much about Fort Carson’s history and its Soldiers, what they do and how Fort Carson operates. I want to thank everyone for their hospitality,” she said.