Army bringing solar plant to Fort Gordon

By JENNA MARTIN | The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle | Published: May 16, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Georgia Power and the Army announced plans Thursday to develop solar power plants at Fort Gordon and two other military bases in Georgia.

The 30-megawatt solar farms will be installed at Fort Gordon, Fort Stewart near Savannah and Fort Benning near Columbus that will, once completed, result in 18 percent of the Army’s energy consumption in Georgia generated from on-site renewable sources, according to an Army release on the Georgia 3X30 project.

The local solar plant will be built on a 250-acre tract near the Gordon Lakes Golf Course, said Fort Gordon Public Affairs Officer J.C. Mathews.

“We’re delighted to have been chosen to be part of the 3X30 initiative,” Mathews said. “We pride ourselves at being in the forefront of technology for the Defense Department, so we think the addition of this facility is a great fit for Fort Gordon.”

Mathews said Fort Gordon already has 13 buildings, in addition to planned barracks, heated and cooled from ground-sourced pumps.

“We’re very interested in seeing continued development of these sorts of renewable and sustainable energy and power sources,” he said.

Georgia Power will build, own and operate the three facilities, scheduled to break ground this fall after an environmental assessment, and be completed by the end of 2016.

Totaling 90 megawatts, the plants are expected to be the largest solar-generation facilities on any U.S. military base, said Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft. Georgia Power’s role in the project stems from a 2007 Renewable Resource Action Plan filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission that gave the company approval to develop and own three cost-effective renewable projects.

The Army said it will purchase power through an existing contract with the regional utility provider.

The bulk of work needed to develop the solar sites will be in design and engineering, Kraft said.

“There are not a lot of moving parts, for instance, in like a traditional power plant,” he said. “Once you get them in, they pretty much just operate. There’s not a lot involved.”

Kraft said 1 megawatt of solar can produce enough annual energy for about 130 homes, but that additional sources of power would be needed on cloudy days or during certain times of the day.

“This doesn’t necessarily replace other generation sources,” he said. “Other generation sources are still needed, but solar can play a part.”

By 2016, Georgia Power expects to boast a solar portfolio of nearly 900 megawatts, which the company contends is the largest in the nation. The company also develops nuclear, advanced coal and natural gas projects.

According to the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, the Army must consume 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The three projects in Georgia are expected to bring the Army closer to that commitment.

The Army’s Energy Initiatives Task Force recently broke ground on a large-scale solar project at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and is working on similar installations in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland and New York.


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