Solar technology contractors meet to discuss upcoming project at Redstone Arsenal

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
Published Aug. 22, 2014

Companies pre-qualified to compete for solar technology projects met Aug. 20 at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, to go over the Request for Proposals for the task order to build a renewable solar energy facility capable of producing up to 18,000 megawatt hours per year on the Arsenal.

In all, 49 solar companies, both large and small businesses, are eligible to submit proposals for the project. Twenty-three of the 49 companies attended the event, seven of them small businesses. Proposals are due Sept. 23.

The project, developed by Redstone Arsenal’s Directorate of Public Works, the U.S. Army Energy Initiatives Task Force and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, is the first Power Purchase Agreement project to be developed using the $7 billion capacity renewable and alternative energy power production for Department of Defense installations Multiple Award Task Order Contract awarded by Huntsville Center.

The MATOC involves third-party financed renewable energy acquisitions and involves no Army or Department of Defense capital, or Military Construction appropriation. The Army or DOD will purchase the power from contractors who own, operate and maintain the generating assets. The MATOC’s total estimated value of $7 billion capacity refers to the total dollar value of energy available for purchase under all Power Purchase Agreement task orders for their entire term (up to 30 years). 

“This meeting is part of the procurement process,” said Earl Johnson, Huntsville Center’s contracting officer for the project.  “We provide an opportunity for companies who are planning to submit a proposal for a project to walk through the requirements and see the potential project site before they finalize their proposals. It provides a level playing field; everybody gets the same information at the same time and has an opportunity to ask questions about the project.”

At the meeting, several senior leaders discussed the importance of the project.

Richard Kidd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy and Sustainability, gave an overview on why renewable energy is important to the Army.  He said the Army is committed to renewable energy.  It makes sense financially and provides a means for energy security.

Kidd said since 2009, solar energy costs have gone from just over $3 per watt to $1.57 per watt, becoming more affordable, and threats to the energy grid as a result of natural or manmade disasters have proven the need for energy security. 

“We look at renewable energy as a means to secure energy for our installations,” Kidd said. “But we are not doing these projects for politically motivated reasons or because of the mandate (energy goal of 25 percent production of energy (1GW) from renewable sources by 2025).  We are doing them for mission effectiveness.  The Army is absolutely committed to renewable energy for the long term.  Renewable energy will be part of what the Army does from now on both tactically and at its installations.”

Lt. Gen. Patricia McQuistion, senior commander of Redstone Arsenal and deputy commander U.S. Army Materiel Command, explained why the Army Materiel Command and Redstone Arsenal need a secure energy source.  She discussed how the Army Materiel Command’s 23 installations, arsenals and depots touch everything Soldiers need.

“This is incredibly important for the Army’s and Redstone Arsenal’s future,” McQuistion said.  “We are all in for finding better ways to reduce requirements for energy and for using renewable sources for that energy that also provide better energy security over traditional energy sources.”

Because Redstone Arsenal is a strategic hub for the Army and NASA, it is important that we have the best, most secure energy, said Col. Bill Marks, Garrison commander. Marks used the nine-day power outage following the tornadoes that hit Alabama in April 2011 to reinforce why a secure energy source is vital to the high technology work done on Redstone.

Amanda Simpson, executive director of the EITF, told attendees about the role of the EITF and outlined projects greater than 10 megawatts that are being developed or constructed through other contracting venues. One of the projects in development is a follow-on combined heat and power plant that will be built on Redstone Arsenal.

“Energy and energy security continue to be key components to enhance Army mission capability and effectiveness, Simpson said.  “Renewable energy is and will continue to be a significant part of the Army’s energy security strategy.”