Presidio of Monterey installs solar chargers for government electric vehicles

By Winifred BrownJanuary 17, 2023

Presidio of Monterey installs solar chargers for government electric vehicles
JeDarrin Thompson, right, a contractor, trains Rich Thorne, left, energy manager for the U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey’s Directorate of Public Works, and Ron Rodriguez, an electrician with the City of Seaside, on the garrison’s new solar charger for electric vehicles at Ord Military Community, Calif., Jan. 12. (Photo Credit: Winifred Brown) VIEW ORIGINAL

PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Jan. 17, 2023) — U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey has installed three solar-powered chargers for electric vehicles on post, beginning the garrison’s mandated switch to electric vehicles.

Michael Dudley, USAG PoM transportation officer, said the installation has two electric vehicles so far, but officials plan to bring in many more in fiscal years 2023 and 2024 to replace the installation’s gas-powered fleet. By reducing carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, electric vehicles help combat climate change.

The initiative comes in response to Executive Order 14057, “Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability,” which requires the Department of Defense to transition its nontactical vehicles to a 100% zero-emission vehicle fleet. That includes 100% of light-duty acquisitions by 2027, and 100% of medium- and heavy-duty acquisitions by 2035.

The Army, however, plans to meet the standard early, Dudley said.

The chargers are located at Building 518 at PoM, which is the Tin Barn; Building 235 at PoM, which houses the Logistics Readiness Center offices; and Building 4435 at Ord Military Community, which houses the Environmental Division of the Directorate of Public Works.

The garrison has assigned the two electric vehicles to the LRC and the USAG PoM Fire Department’s Fire Prevention division, Dudley said.

Rich Thorne, energy manager for the garrison’s Directorate of Public Works, said U.S. Army Installation Management Command paid for the chargers, and other garrisons have received them as well.

Thorne said he and LRC officials intend for the stations to get the installation through its first year with electric vehicles and then they will add more.

“I worked with LRC to figure out where the highest densities of electric vehicles are being deployed to in the first year, and that determined where these charging stations are going, so we can meet the needs of as many vehicles as we can in the first year,” Thorne said.

The stations feature solar panels that charge batteries, and the solar panels move throughout the day to maximize the amount of sunlight the panels receive, Thorne said. The system also uses a GPS device to determine where the sun is supposed to be located.

In addition, Thorne said he will be able to monitor online when someone is using a station, when the station is discharging electricity and the condition of the battery.

The charging stations are only for government vehicles, Dudley said, and not for personal vehicles. Thorne said users will need a code on their phone with a QR scanner to use a station.

Dudley said the garrison has 64 vehicles, and the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center has 33. Those are the on-post vehicles the LRC manages and plans to eventually switch to electric.

There are other vehicles on post that the Navy and Marine Corps, for example, manage, and while they still fall under the executive order, their exact timeline may differ, Dudley said.

President Joe Biden issued Executive Order 14057 on Dec. 8, 2021, to fight climate change, create jobs and improve the economy, according to the order.

“As the single largest land owner, energy consumer, and employer in the Nation, the Federal Government can catalyze private sector investment and expand the economy and American industry by transforming how we build, buy, and manage electricity, vehicles, buildings, and other operations to be clean and sustainable,” the order reads.

The installation’s full-sized electric vehicles are not the installation’s first electric vehicles, however, and federal initiatives to fight climate change with alternative-fueled vehicles go back more than a decade.

For example, in 2010 the Presidio of Monterey added five Low Speed Electric Vehicles to its fleet. The LSEVs have basic accessories, such as a heater, windshield wipers, seat belts and cargo areas. The fully enclosed vehicles have a top speed of about 30 mph, receive electricity through a regular outlet and can travel approximately 30 miles per charge.

The Army bought LSEVs in response to Executive Order 13514: Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, a mandate that encourages the acquisition of alternate-fueled vehicles to save energy, money and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Former President Barack Obama signed it in October 2009.

Dudley said people with questions about the new solar charging stations can call him at (831) 242-6450.