Fort Benning Opens New Solar Power Facility

Chalk one up for the good guys. 134,000 solar panels have been installed at Fort Benning, the U.S. Army base next to Columbus, Georgia. The new solar energy facility is a joint project between the Army and Georgia Power. Georgia Power has spent $70 million over the last two years developing it and they are just getting started. Georgia Power has said it will spend an additional $400 million on solar energy projects across the state including ones at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Fort Stewart in Hinesville, and the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base south of Brunswick.

Despite the federal government’s reputation for inefficiency and bureaucratic slowdowns, the Fort Benning facility moved along quite smoothly after the Georgia Public Service Commission gave it the greenlight in January 2014. Georgia Power dedicated about 270 workers and 260,000 hours to the project and the Department of Defense kept it rolling. Katherine Hammack, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, was particularly proud of the DoD’s efforts, saying that this project “dispels the notion that the federal government is hard to work with.”

We’ll get back to you on that one Ms. Hammack.

Since 2008, the DoD and the Department of Energy have been working to increase renewable energy sources on military bases. An early and ambitious goal was to develop net zero energy military bases that produce as much energy as they consume. Unfortunately, a GAO report released in January 2016 found that the DoD has not developed an integrated net zero strategy, failing to do much more than set broad energy goals and allow the individual branches to innovate on their own. Thankfully for Georgia, Army leaders like Hammack have not been dragging their feet. In addition to the partnership with Georgia Power, the Army has moved ahead with the Net Zero pilot program that will help bases manage their water resources and waste in a more sustainable manner.

While the rest of the military catches up, it’s all peaches in Georgia. The panels will supply around 17 percent of the electricity at Fort Benning and will presumably help cut down on the military’s massive energy consumption. The DoD is the country’s largest consumer of energy, spending around $1.3 billion of its $500 billion budget on energy each year. Saving on energy costs should clear up space for worthy initiatives like increasing pay for active duty soldiers, preparing for a showdown in the South China Sea, and funding the development of more death machines like this laser-equipped fighter jet that is due by 2020. I guess that galaxy wasn’t as far away as we thought.

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Noway2016
Noway2016

B.o.o.n.d.o.g.g.l.e. Can we all join hands now for a stirring rendition of Kumbaya?

PM
PM

What per cent ROI for the purchaser, and what is the average maintenance cost per year for first 7 years? None of the hoopla provides details on whether the projects are sustainable financially.

Noway2016
Noway2016

But, PM, it’s the thoughtful intentions that matter for anything lib!!!

PM
PM

Noway2016 – I’m ok if self sustaining financially. I’m not ok if environmentally friendly fuels and sources are soaking up money that should be earmarked to real abilites to defend us. If this project saves money so fuel costs can be diverted to funding the spare parts and training then I’m all for it. If this project is not self sustaining from a capital and operations cost stance then this is NOT something we should be hawking as a success as it cuts into those “laser equipped fighter jets” of the future – and is another classic example of the… Read more »

chefdavid
chefdavid

But it’s in Alabama “has 134,000 solar panels over more than 240 acres off 101st Airborne Road near the Uchee Creek recreational area on the Alabama side of the post.

Jack Fitz
Jack Fitz

Kudos to the Army and SoCo for thinking outside the box on this development. I think it shows initiative that SoCo is seeing the military as a potential growth sector, and it shows the military is seeking out ways to diversify their energy portfolio.

And regarding the fiscal pitchforks that earlier folks were looking to bare, if you’re really looking at ways to “increase pay for active duty soliders…etc”, then perhaps its best to find some inefficiencies in the 99.74% of the DOD budget that ISN’T energy related. ($1.3B/$500B = .0026)

Will Durant
Will Durant

Yup. You could cross off the entire $1.3B energy bill by cancelling the order on a half-dozen or so F35s.

Noway2016
Noway2016

Or cutting out a similar amount from food stamp recipients.

Benevolus
Benevolus

Or raising the limit on SS contributions.

Noway2016
Noway2016

Typical. Seizing more from those who’ve earned it.

Benevolus
Benevolus

Better than taking from those who actually need it.

Noway2016
Noway2016

Righto, Mr. Marx! Truly putrid…

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

Seems great. Solar panels are greatly improving.
Wait, what, trust the Feds on high tech stuff on one of those “unnecessary” military bases ? So where did they source the panels from ? China is usually the lowest cost/bid. And with an entire government department dedicated to listening to our business via their favorite insiders and allies, the Clintons. A military base is a coupe,

joe
joe

“… and will presumably help cut down on the military’s massive energy consumption. ”

Changing sources of energy has little if anything) to do with consumption.