US Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center

ECIP projects inching Fort Hunter Liggett toward Net Zero

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
Published May 7, 2015
Todd Dirmeyer, the Army's 2014 Energy Manager of the Year from Fort Hunter Liggett, California, shares his installation's Net Zero strategy with Army Resource Efficiency Managers during an April conference at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

Todd Dirmeyer, the Army's 2014 Energy Manager of the Year from Fort Hunter Liggett, California, shares his installation's Net Zero strategy with Army Resource Efficiency Managers during an April conference at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

Solar panel arrays form a canopy at Fort Hunter Liggett, California. The site, photographed in March 2013, is the first two phases of an Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP) solar microgrid project, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District. A Fiscal Year 2016 ECIP project with additional rooftop solar panels, as well as a second battery energy storage system, will bring the installation to Net Zero energy once operational.

Solar panel arrays form a canopy at Fort Hunter Liggett, California. The site, photographed in March 2013, is the first two phases of an Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP) solar microgrid project, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District. A Fiscal Year 2016 ECIP project with additional rooftop solar panels, as well as a second battery energy storage system, will bring the installation to Net Zero energy once operational.

This summer Fort Hunter Liggett will begin the design phase of a $22 million Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP) project that, when complete, will get the California installation to Net Zero energy use.

Submitted to and selected by Department of Defense (DOD) as part of the fiscal year 2016 ECIP program, the project includes 5 MW of photovoltaic (PV) power generation and a 3MW hour Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). Combined with the 2MW PV array already operating and 1MW PV array under construction, the 5MW of solar will enable Fort Hunter Liggett to produce all the energy it consumes, according to Todd Dirmeyer, the installation energy manager.

One of the nine Net Zero Initiative pilot installations selected by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, Fort Hunter Liggett has been inching its way toward its 2020 Net Zero goals through a myriad of small projects.

“The past few years we've been putting in projects 1MW at a time, so we decided to develop a strategy with Fort Hunter Liggett to put together one project that would enable them to achieve Net Zero energy,” said Karen R. Moore, ECIP validation program manager at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville. The Huntsville Center ECIP team validates all the Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard project requests – more than 200 a year – to ensure packets are complete and determine the strongest projects (based on the DOD ECIP criteria) that will move forward for potential funding.

Moore said they were thrilled when DOD selected the Fort Hunter Liggett project for funding, calling it “the poster child” for the FY 16 ECIP. “This is the first installation that will achieve Net Zero through an ECIP-funded project,” she said.

The unique thing about the 5MW solar project is that it will include some 500,000 square feet of roof-mounted PV, according to Dirmeyer. He estimates about 50 buildings will end up being Net Zero buildings, because when the roof-mounted PV is operational those buildings will produce at least as much energy as they consume.

This will be the second BESS project for Fort Hunter Liggett; the first 1MW hour system has been operational for about eight months, according to Dirmeyer.

“The battery storage is part of the Net Zero equation – right now we charge it during the day with any excess solar we have, and we discharge it at night to help meet our off-peak loads – but it’s also part of our energy security solution,” Dirmeyer said. “We are working parallel paths toward Net Zero and energy security.”

Other FY 13-16 projects helping the 165,000-acre Army Reserve installation along the Net Zero path include LED interior lighting upgrades; advanced electric meters; electrical substation upgrades; solar panels with Enhanced Microgrid Control Systems; and heating, ventilating and air conditioning system improvements. New housing units completed in March were designed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-Silver energy efficiency standards and the operational readiness training complex currently under construction will be LEED-Silver certifiable when complete. In addition, the waste water treatment plant is being upgraded to not only improve efficiency but also prepare the building to house a waste-to-energy system that will generate electricity through gasification of waste products, according to the Sacramento District Corps of Engineers, which manages these facility and renewable energy construction projects on the installation.

Dirmeyer has also sought out a variety of incentive programs and funding sources to achieve its goals. In addition to ECIP funds, the installation has also taken advantage of funds and grants from DOD’s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), the Army Energy and Utility Program, the California Energy Commission and the Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program, as well as Utility Energy Services Contracting with the local energy company.

“I have a great team and a great network of people who have enabled us to get where we are,” said Dirmeyer, the Army’s 2014 Energy Manager of the Year. “I would like for us to be a model for this country and the world to follow. I think energy – to include the direct effects such as climate change – is probably the No. 1 issue we have on this planet right now.”