SACRAMENTO, Calif. (March 12, 2012) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District is nearing completion on a new solar microgrid at Fort Hunter Liggett near King City, Calif., which will be capable of generating up to one megawatt of power.

One megawatt is enough energy to power 250 to 300 homes at once. The solar grids that provide that power will also shade for more than 100 military vehicles.

"It's going to serve a dual purpose of providing the power and providing shelter for the trucks as well," said Bob Roy, project engineer with the Sacramento District.

Scheduled to be completed in mid-April, the microgrid is the first of four planned microgrids at the post currently being overseen by the Sacramento District. The district awarded an $8.4 million contract for construction of the microgrid in September 2010. It's one way the district is playing a key role in helping the post achieve a net-zero status.

The Army's net zero approach aims to manage resources sustainably, including maximizing facility energy efficiency, implementing water conservation practices and eliminating unnecessary waste generation. Currently, the Army has selected six pilot installations to be net-zero energy; six to be net-zero waste; six to be net-zero water; and two to be all three by 2020.

Fort Hunter Liggett was selected as both an energy and waste pilot site. A net-zero waste installation reduces, reuses, and recovers waste streams, converting them to resource values with zero landfill over the course of a year. Net-zero energy calls for an installation to create as much energy as it uses.

"These one megawatt solar grids will ensure that Fort Hunter Liggett meets or exceeds their energy goals by 2020 by producing as much energy as they consume," said Ross Renken, program manager for project.

More than 4,400 photovoltaic panels were used on the project, which has a total length of approximately 2,400 feet according to Roy.

Along with the energy production, the panel arrays will form a canopy to shade the majority of the post's vehicles.

A $9.7 million contract for the second solar microgrid, which is currently being designed, was awarded in September 2011. The second solar microgrid is scheduled to be completed in February 2013.

"We know that energy efficiency increases mission effectiveness and energy security is critical to mission success," said Maj. Gen. Bo Temple, acting U.S. Army chief of engineers.

"I am proud of the key role the Corps of Engineers plays in helping the Army meet its vision of appropriately managing natural resources with a goal of net zero installations," said Temple.