HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The U.S. Army and Engineering Support Center, Huntsville’s Energy Division awarded a third-party contract in September that will improve energy independence and resiliency, as well as provide energy savings for Fort Irwin, Calif.
Fort Irwin is home to the National Training Center, a remote major training area for the U.S. military located in the Mojave Desert in northern San Bernardino County, California.
Huntsville Center’s Utility Energy Services Contracting developed the contract vehicle which provides for a 21-mile dedicated natural gas pipeline and a 16 MW combined heat and power plant for on-site energy generation capable of maintaining critical loads indefinitely during an electric outage.
The multi-phase project will provide a dedicated natural gas pipeline and transition Fort Irwin away from its use of propane. Cost savings for the project are estimated at more than $6.6 million in the first year of a 15-year payback.
Chad Edward, Huntsville Center Energy Division project manager, said the project uses UESC as its method whereby a selected local utility company — in this project its Southwest Gas – assesses the energy savings opportunities, fronts the capital costs, and designs and installs the equipment in the project.
He said the project is a seven-year endeavor with two phases. Phase 1, he said, is for the pipeline installation, and Phase 2 is to convert all the propane equipment to natural gas. The project also includes installation of a large Combine Heat and Power plant.
Edward said the real advantage to this contract is that within a UESC, additional subsequent projects can be included within the same contract, payback period, and construction timeline.
“Other energy resiliency and efficiency improvement opportunities in various energy conservation measure categories, all of which build upon each other and provide a strategy of perseverance rather than reaction. The fully developed ECMs include a site-wide conversion to natural gas, a solar photovoltaic array, and a battery energy storage system. The identified ECMs contribute to Department of Defense and Army energy security, help meet energy reduction and overall resiliency goals, and continue the Fort Irwin legacy of energy project achievement.
Fort Irwin will save more than $6.6 million in annual energy and related costs starting in the first year of the performance period. This savings equates to $295 million during a 20-year contract term, all while upgrading and securing Fort Irwin as the premier leader in demonstrating energy security and independence.
“By taking advantage of commercial practices, the Army can leverage advances in the technology and the corresponding cost reductions, and by procuring energy security as a service, the Army can take advantage of more integrated solutions and utilize third-party financing and risk sharing,” Edwards said.
Paul Schonenberger, Fort Irwin Department of Public Works installation energy manager, said the project is a “huge win” for Fort Irwin’s electrical resiliency.
“This project starts putting into place all the infrastructure required for a drop-in replacement with a green energy source once the technology becomes available,” he said.
With the 16-megawatt natural gas generation and battery storage system, Schonenberger said Fort Irwin can meet most of its electrical requirements while also reducing its carbon footprint.
“This will move our current diesel backup generation to a tertiary position, reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions for the post.”