“Off the Grid” demo and electric vehicles at the Army’s 248th birthday festival

By U.S. Army Public AffairsJune 8, 2023

Chevrolet BOLT Electric Vehicle
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Ford F-150 Lightning Electric Vehicle
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WASHINGTON – On Saturday, June 10, the Army Birthday Festival will be held at the National Museum of the U.S Army at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to kick off the celebration of the Army’s 248th birthday on June 14.

During the event, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment will show how the Army is tackling the challenge of climate change and promoting energy resilience by hosting a "microgrid" demonstration to simulate a contingency-based, carbon-free energy environment. The microgrid will power key festival attractions and displays, taking them completely off the grid. In addition, festival attendees will have the opportunity to get up-close and personal with the Army’s latest non-tactical electric vehicles.

“Energy is a key enabler and force multiplier for the Army,” said Rachel Jacobson, ASA for IE&E. “As we work to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change, we increase our readiness and lethality while reducing costs and our logistical footprint.”

To maintain and increase its competitive advantages, the Army is aggressively pursuing its goals of reducing emissions through electrification of tactical and non-tactical vehicles and increasing energy resilience with microgrids and portable, carbon-free energy solutions.

Microgrids are small-scale electrical systems that can be powered by the sun, natural gas, batteries, wind and other passive-energy sources. In addition, they can also store energy, allowing them to power mission-critical systems on installations during grid disturbances and disruptions.

“We plan to install microgrids on every installation by 2035, with a goal of combining these systems with carbon-free energy generation and battery storage to sustain critical missions at all Army installations by 2040,” said Jacobson. “Currently, the Army has 28 operational microgrids, plus nine under construction and 26 in design.”

In addition to microgrids and carbon free energy, transportation and logistics are also key components for increased resilience and sustainability, and festival attendees will have the opportunity to see – and drive – the Army’s newest non-tactical electric vehicles: the Ford F-150 Lightning pick-up truck and the Chevrolet Bolt. Soldiers and DoD civilians with common access cards and valid driver’s licenses will be able to test drive both vehicles. The Ford F-150 Lightning pick-up truck will also lead the way as the pace car for the Army Birthday Run/Walk on June 15.

Several Army installations, including Fort Carson, Colorado and Fort Moore, Georgia, have already received their first shipments of F-150 pick-up trucks and charging stations, and more are coming to installations across the country.

Non-tactical EVs reduce the logistical burden on the Army and increase energy resilience, and the Army Climate Strategy lays out the framework to field an all-electric, non-tactical vehicle fleet by 2035.

For 248 years, U.S. Army Soldiers have been turning obstacles into possibilities that have helped build and defend our nation, and the renewable energy and climate initiatives demonstrated at the festival will directly support Army Readiness.

The Army Birthday Festival is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the Army Museum will also be open with free admission.

Members of the public will have opportunities to interact with Soldiers, explore equipment displays, and observe action-packed live military events, including the Army Drill Team, a Golden Knights aerial demonstration and more.

For more information, please visit https://www.thenmusa.org/army-birthday.