The Army on Thursday kicked off its largest renewable energy project to date.
The project on Fort Hood, Texas, one of the Army's largest installations, will include an on-post solar farm and an off-site wind turbine farm, which has the ability to generate 65 megawatts of electricity for the installation, according to information released by Fort Hood. The project will be the first hybrid wind and solar project in the Army, and it also will be the first to combine on-site and off-site facilities.
Over the course of the contract — awarded to Apex Clean by the Defense Logistics Agency — the Army will save about $168 million, said Maj. Gen. John Uberti, deputy commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, in a statement.
"Not only will we gain a sustainable energy source, supplying nearly half of our energy needs, but it will be at a lower price than the power generated by fossil fuels," Uberti said. "it is fitting that the largest project of this type is at Fort Hood, Texas, because, as I'm learning, everything in Texas is big."
Officials from Fort Hood, the Pentagon and the local community broke ground on the project Thursday.
When completed, the solar farm on Fort Hood will have more than 63,000 solar panels covering an area of 132 acres on post, said Brian Dosa, director of public works for Fort Hood. That's equivalent to about 10 football fields, he said.
The off-site wind turbine farm will be in Floyd County, Texas, which is about 350 miles northwest of Fort Hood. The 20 turbines on the farm will connect into an interconnection substation that in turn connects to the grid, officials said. A partner utility will then deliver the power from the wind farm to Fort Hood, officials said.
This project at Fort Hood is just the beginning of more projects to come, said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment.
During the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, Hammack noted that the federal government is the largest energy user in the United States, while the Army is the largest facility energy user.
"Last year, [the Army's energy bill] cost us $1.3 billion, and when we look at this project here that is going to save money across the term of the contract for the Army, that is money that we can put elsewhere, to critical missions, and that's important to us," Hammack said in a statement. "I'm proud of the work we've done so far, and I look forward to the Army continuing to lead by example in energy efficiency and in renewable energy projects."