Solar panels will be installed on 4700 homes at Ft. Bliss

November 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

On Wednesday Balfour Beatty Communities, LLC and SolarCity® announced plans to provide up to 13.2 megawatts of solar energy on 4,700 military homes at Balfour Beatty-managed residential communities at Fort Bliss, Texas, and the adjacent White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico. The project is an equipment lease arrangement, primarily financed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which supports the U.S. Army’s program to reduce energy consumption at all installations to ‘Net Zero’

This project is the first and largest phase of a 5-year plan to build more than $1 billion in solar energy systems for up to 120,000 military homes throughout the United States. This project is dubbed SolarStrong by SolarCity, a leader in public/private solar energy projects for schools and other government facilities around the nation.

Construction is expected to begin in January. In addition to the jobs the project will support in the manufacture of the solar panels SolarCity will initially add more than 100 installations, electrical, and maintenance jobs locally.

In the announcement Wednesday Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy Environment) said this project by the Army would lead the way for other public/private renewable energy projects around the nation.

“Fort Bliss continues to make advances in reducing its overall energy footprint and demonstrating its leadership on the forefront of energy efficiency. This public/private partnership is a strategic and significant investment which will, over the life cycle of the installed photo-voltaic system, save the government money while providing an alternative and sustainable source of energy to the installation. I am confident the Army will continue to lead the way on innovative business partnerships like the one here at Fort Bliss.”

Major General Dana Pittard, Commanding General of the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss noted that this is the largest solar housing project in the Army.

“Thanks to the innovative collaboration between Fort Bliss and our housing partner Balfour Beatty Communities, we are moving closer to achieving our goal of reducing our carbon footprint and becoming completely self-sufficient in energy as an installation by 2018. Once complete, these solar arrays will resource the largest solar project in any housing area in our Army. The solar project will pay for itself through the installation’s reduced utility bills.”

Balfour Beatty Communities, LLC manages these housing communities for the Army at Ft. Bliss and White Sands. It also manages housing at Ft. Carson in Colorado which is also part to the DOD’s renewable energy program.

Balfour Beatty provides development, financing, renovation, operation and management services as part of comprehensive military housing privatization projects for the U.S. Departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The company is committed to sustainable business practices and is a leader in the military housing Public-Private Partnership (PPP or P3) industry, currently providing services to members of the U.S. military and their families residing at 48 military communities in 24 states.

Chris Williams, President of Balfour Beatty Communities said his company and this project is a significant step towards energy security.

“As a strategic partner to the U.S. Army, Balfour Beatty Communities is actively engaged in supporting their vision of installations that operate on a Net Zero basis for energy, water and waste,” said. “The solar project at Fort Bliss is a significant step toward increasing the installation’s overall energy security while delivering a clean, renewable energy source for our many residents.”

The Defense Department is currently the largest energy consumer in the United States. It has a world-wide goal of reducing energy consumption to zero in a project called “Net Zero.” The DOD expects the Fort Bliss installation will produce as much energy as it uses while sending no waste to landfills and maximizing water reuse. The projects will also help the military meet Department of Defense goals to have 25 percent of its energy requirements met by renewable energy by 2025.

The Department of Defense strongly believes that renewable energy is an extremely important for national security. The Department’s position is that the United States military and defense installations must be self-sufficient when it comes to energy so that no disruption in energy can disrupt our national defense. Net Zero was developed as part of that strategy. The SolarCity/Balfour Beatty project helps the DOD achieve that goal.

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