By Virginia Reza, IMCOMNovember 4, 2011
FORT BLISS, Texas, Nov. 4, 2011 -- Climate, industry, research and other means that make this region ideal for environmental and renewable energy development can only be achieved through cooperation, said Col. Joseph A. Simonelli Jr., Fort Bliss garrison commandeer, during the Oct. 26 Re-Energize the Americas Conference at El Paso's Judson F. Williams Convention Center.
Simonelli stressed the importance of collaboration, not only between public utilities, private investors, and state and federal entities, but also as individuals to make this region the nation's model for economical development.
"The future of the Army and this country resides here," said Simonelli. "But this is going to take every single one of us working together. This is not an Army mission. This is our mission, together, as a group."
Despite state legal and regulatory issues, and military bureaucracy challenges, Fort Bliss' leadership strategically and aggressively implemented numerous energy projects currently saving taxpayers approximately $2.8 million a year.
The creation of the Energy Initiatives Office Task Force established in September by the secretary of the Army is designed to eliminate further military bureaucratic challenges for large-scale Army renewable energy projects, therefore facilitating Fort Bliss' goal to be the first integrated "net zero" installation in the Army.
"I'm delighted to see Fort Bliss taking initiative as a leader for the Army and our region in developing renewable energy options," said Paul Maxwell, chief executive officer and executive director of the Bi-National Sustainability Laboratory. "The Fort Bliss goal of reaching energy net zero by 2015 is remarkable. I think we have the right leaders on Fort Bliss and hopefully we have the right leaders in El Paso."
Individuals can contribute to the net zero effort by reducing, reusing and recycling. By following simple tips such as swapping paper towels for reusable rags, reusing shopping bags, using warm or cold water settings in clothes washers, replacing lights with energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs, purchasing energy-efficient appliances -- and other strategies found on numerous websites -- community members can help Fort Bliss reach the goal.