Solar Panel
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Army's Largest Solar Array Generates More Than Power

By Michael J. Pach

FORT CARSON, Col. (Army News Service, Jan. 17, 2008) - Officials cut the ribbon Monday on the Army's largest solar array, a 2-megawatt system at Fort Carson that should produce enough power for 540 homes.

"We're excited today to be part of such a landmark renewable energy project for Colorado and the United States Army," said Col. Eugene Smith, Fort Carson garrison commander, during a ceremony to mark completion of the array. "Our vision for Fort Carson is to be a sustainable installation, and it is energy projects like this and our commitment to other projects, that propel us along that journey."

Smith said the long-term energy goal for Fort Carson is to sustain all facility mobility systems from renewable sources by 2027.

"We're on our way now," he said. "And we look forward to continuing our work with our many partners and energy stakeholders that help the Mountain Post, the U.S. Army and the Pikes Peak region become more energy efficient."

Also on hand at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr. and Maj. Gen. Mark A. Graham, commanding general, Division West, First Army and Fort Carson.

Maj. Gen. Graham thanked Gov. Ritter for his vision for renewable energy and expressed his thoughts on being a good neighbor within the Colorado Springs Community.

"I think what you see behind me is vision," said Graham of the new solar array. "Fort Carson and the Army are proud to be a part of this project. The nation wins and the world wins with solar energy -- everyone wins here."

Construction of the ground-mounted solar photovoltaic array was completed in December. It was built on 12 acres of landfill and the solar panels are expected to produce power for 40 years.

Fort Carson won the Governor's Renewable Energy Award for 2007 for its efforts in the solar array project.

"We wanted to acknowledge the work at Fort Carson as visionary work," said Gov. Ritter. "I think this is such a fantastic project for Fort Carson because this is something the people of this state certainly understand. We really believe that the future of this country will look differently in terms of the way we produce and how we consume energy than it did this year or five or 10 years ago."

The governor said he believes that in 25 years, the country will be consuming far more renewable energy sources than it does now.

Fort Carson is purchasing electricity produced from the array at a fixed rate of 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour for the duration of a 17-year contract. An estimated savings of $500,000 in electricity costs is expected during the life of the contract.

The Fort Carson effort was managed by Stephanie Carter and Vince Guthrie. Carter's role as the Directorate of Public Works utilities program manager was to prepare the landfill for construction. Guthrie, an industrial engineer with the DPW operations and maintenance division, coordinated the efforts of all the organizations involved.

Guthrie said he believes the efforts of this project will spur other renewable energy programs.

"Before we can change the climate, we have to change the culture," said Guthrie. "That's what these projects are all about."