Ceremony celebrates completion of microgrid at Fort Cavazos

By Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public AffairsMarch 5, 2024

Fort Cavazos, state and local leadership prepare to cut the ribbon to celebrate the newly operational intelligent energy grid sustainability and restoration microgrid tool during a ceremony March 1 at Robert Gray Army Airfield. (U.S. Army photo by Scott Darling, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs)
Fort Cavazos, state and local leadership prepare to cut the ribbon to celebrate the newly operational intelligent energy grid sustainability and restoration microgrid tool during a ceremony March 1 at Robert Gray Army Airfield. (U.S. Army photo by Scott Darling, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — Fort Cavazos, state and local leadership gathered Feb. 23 at Robert Gray Army Airfield here for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of an intelligent energy grid sustainability and restoration microgrid tool.

“In my role as the commander of III Armored Corps and as a senior commander for Fort Cavazos I really have two big responsibilities,” said Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, III Armored Corps and Fort Cavazos commander. “One of those is the care of our Soldiers, all of our DA (Department of Army) civilian teammates and their families. The other big responsibility is maintaining our readiness — the readiness of III Armored Corps as America’s Hammer, as the fighting force, the readiness of Fort Cavazos as a power projection platform, as a place from which we project the combat power of the United States Army overseas to do our nation’s bidding. As I think about those two big duties, this microgrid project and the energy resilience it provides is all about those two things.”

The now operational microgrid can provide a minimum of 14 days of operational capability for 43 Fort Cavazos facilities at West Fort Cavazos, even if the state were to lose power. It also has the ability to provide more than $125,000 in energy savings per day during any Electric Reliability Council of Texas peak demand period, among other capabilities.

“If we have some type of a major power issue in this area, flash back to what some people call the ‘Snowpocalypse.’ I think we called it officially winter storm Uri back in February of 2021,” Bernabe said. “I watched that from a distance … it was a tough event for Fort Cavazos and this community. This microgrid actually allows us to continue to power all the barracks, the dining facility and those facilities on West Fort Cavazos that help us care for our Soldiers and their families.

Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, III Armored Corps and Fort Cavazos commander peaks to those gathered for the microgrid ribbon cutting ceremony Feb. 23 at Robert Gray Army Airfield. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs)
Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, III Armored Corps and Fort Cavazos commander peaks to those gathered for the microgrid ribbon cutting ceremony Feb. 23 at Robert Gray Army Airfield. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: Photo by Blair Dupre) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Beyond that … if we had some type of a challenge with the major power network in this area and as I think about that second responsibility … well this microgrid project powers critical infrastructure like the air traffic control tower,” he continued. “The tower that would allow us to land C-17s in a crisis and put combat power on that aircraft and fly it somewhere around the world to do our nation’s bidding. I’m thankful that it’s going to help me accomplish my two big tasks as a senior commander.”

During the ceremony, Texas State Rep. Brad Buckley shared words of wisdom that he received from Gen. Robert Shoemaker, “We must begin to think regionally.” Shoemaker explained to Buckley that projects that fall outside of someone’s immediate realm of responsibility can have immeasurable benefits that may not be recognizable at the moment but could become clear in the future.

“If you look at this project, you think about the partnership with leaders at Fort Cavazos, leaders in the state of Texas, leaders with our partners on Fort Cavazos and our local leaders in the city of Temple — that is exactly the scenario that General Shoemaker, very directly, told me,” Buckley said. “Winter storm Uri revealed a big problem … Here’s a problem presented, let’s solve it for the greater good. The greater good that will protect this country, that will protect the men and women that serve it, will protect the communities we serve and will absolutely defend this nation and protect this nation from its enemies across the globe.”

In order to build the microgrid, U.S. Army Garrison-Fort Cavazos, the city of Temple and Dominion Energy competed for a $5 million Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant, also referred to as DEAAG. Executive Director of the Texas Military Preparedness Commission Keith Graf said DEAAG funds projects that add value or contribute to military installations like the microgrid.

“This project is a true partnership with funding for the city of Temple, the state of Texas and the United States Army,” he said.

Lastly, Mark Vick, air traffic control chief of the Directorate of Aviation Operations, took the podium and said the reliable power source is critical to the operations at the air traffic control facilities, which affect not only Fort Cavazos, but all military and civilian aircraft within 60 nautical miles of the installation.

“The power redundancy will ensure air traffic control facility operations continue their missions without interruptions and ensure aircraft operations are conducted safely at Robert Gray Army Airfield, Killeen Regional Airport and seven additional military and civilian encompassing 11 counties in Central Texas,” he explained. “Fort Cavazos, our local communities and the state of Texas have been great partners and projects such as the microgrid are shining examples of this fact. This project will ensure an everlasting impact on the air traffic control mission here at Fort Cavazos.”