FORT CARSON, Colo. — A U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville acquisition vehicle delivered Fort Carson an energy storage system designed to combat the high cost of peak electricity use periods.
Huntsville Center’s Energy Savings Performance Contracting program managers and contracting specialists coordinated the project with AECOM, the energy service contractor, and the garrison’s directorate of public works.
A ceremonial “switch throwing” event Jan. 9 marked completion of the project.
Although Huntsville Center ESPC projects have resulted in energy storage systems installed at multiple military bases, Mike Belles, AECOM’s senior project manager, said the Fort Carson unit installed in November is the largest peak-shaving battery on a Department of Defense installation.
The 8.5 megawatt-per-hour battery system consists of thousands of small cells inside more than a dozen, 5-by-12-foot containers. The battery will offset the high energy demands placed on Fort Carson’s power grid, especially during summer cooling season, ultimately increasing power grid resilience.
Rachel Hoeffner, ESPC project manager for the Fort Carson project, said ESPC projects are unique in that the energy savings contractor, or ESCO, performs operations and maintenance on major systems, allowing Fort Carson’s Directorate of Public Works maintenance resources to be spent on other activities.
Because the project is guaranteed to pay for itself over time, Fort Carson was able to leverage an existing Energy Savings Performance Contract with engineering firm AECOM to finance, design and construct the $8 million battery system.
“These third party financed agreements allow the garrison to focus appropriated funds on mission critical requirements,” she said.
Hoeffner said the completed project is a result of a lot of hard work and detailed communication between all parties involved.
“With any project there will be setbacks,” Hoeffner said.
“At one point we even had to modify the contract to add a control system as an additional scope of work and that took a lot of coordination on Huntsville Center’s end as well as AECOM and the DPW, but we all pulled together as a team and saw the project through. It was truly a team effort.”
Vince Guthrie, utility program manager, Fort Carson Directorate of Public Works, said the system will reduce the garrison’s billed peak electric use by an average of 9 percent every month, which will save Fort Carson approximately $525,000 a year.
When Fort Carson is paying the highest rate each month for peak electric use as a large-scale consumer, the system discharges electricity. During periods where there is less electricity demand, and the post pays a lower rate for its electricity, the battery recharges.
“Using less of anything when demand is high and/or there is a shortage is the first step to becoming more resilient,” Guthrie said.
Pursuing the battery energy storage system project aligns with the Army’s increased focus on energy resilience.
“The Army needs resilient energy at Fort Carson and other Army installations,” said Guthrie. “If we lose power it impacts our capability to adequately train and equip Soldiers and deploy Army power where it’s needed.”