The Army has taken steps to formalize its plan to spend about $7 billion over the next decade on renewable energy in an attempt to try to bring down its annual $15 billion gas and oil bill.
The plan is to have 25% of the service’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025, through a mix of wind, solar, biomass and geothermal sources at its installations around the world. Specifically, the Army has pledged to reduce all energy, water and waste use at 100 installations worldwide to “net zero” by 2020. This means it would produce “as much energy on or near the installation as it consumes in its buildings and facilities,” according to Army documents.
A huge part of the plan revolves around the work of the Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF), stood up about six months ago, which so far has “screened more than 180 Army and National Guard installations and are currently engaged with 15 different installations at various levels of due diligence,” according to Executive Director John Lushetsky. The task force is focused on developing renewable energy projects of 10 megawatts or more on Army installations.
The goal isn’t just to save money on energy coats—though in its fiscal environment that’s obviously pretty important—but also to ensure an uninterrupted flow of energy to critical installations. Katherine Hammack, the assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, speaking at the same Pentagon event as Lushetsky, said that since “power grids are extremely vulnerable,” and “utility energy industries rank high on the list of potential targets by terrorists … we have to address these threats and make sure that the Army of tomorrow has the same access to resources as the Army of today.”
As anyone who has had to strip down and remove all electronics from their bag in a crowded airport undoubtedly knows by now, fear is a powerful motivator, and for the Army to frame the plan in terms of security isn’t the worst strategy to have in an era where terrorism is a constant bogeyman.
Hammack said that the EITF has also partnered with the U.S. Corps of Engineers to develop a process where interested companies can submit general proposals so the Army can “select who we think are broadly qualified companies to bid” on a whole slew of projects. Lushetsky added that the EITF has already received requests from about 195 companies, and has met with 40 en route to its May summit with industry to further explain the type of projects it is looking to undertake.