FORT HOOD, Texas – Staying ready to serve and protect our nation at a moment’s notice takes a lot of work and energy.
Fort Hood’s award-winning renewable energy project is the largest in the U.S. Army and is helping the military base conserve and produce energy.
“Everything we do at Fort Hood, including environmental, is aimed to benefit the warfighter – to make sure that their primary mission is sustainable and safe,” Timi Dutchuk, chief of environmental programs, said. “Whether it’s energy reduction, managing wildlife, making sure that we’re in compliance with clean air and clean water, it’s really to make sure that we are capable of securing our nation.”
Brian Dosa, public works director at Fort Hood, said energy use on Fort Hood equates to about $25 million a year.
“So we’re looking for ways to be more efficient, to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars and one way that we came up with a few years ago was to try to use more renewable energy,” Dosa said.
Fort Hood is currently producing energy through a solar plant and wind turbines in West Texas.
“Why not take advantage of the solar and turn that into free, clean electricity that would support Fort Hood?” he said.
There are nearly 65,000 solar panels and they all follow the sun’s direction to generate electracy. So far, it’s estimated Fort Hood has saved $5 million over around 20 months.
“For most people, it comes down to dollars and cents,” Dosa said. “If you can come up with a solar renewable energy project that makes sense when it comes to the bottom line, people are very excited about that.”
Chief of the Energy Management Branch Bobby Lynn works out of a building that’s now 98 percent close to being “net-zero,” according to the latest data. That means it’s a building that is close to producing as much energy as it consumes.
“During the months of May, June, July, and August, we’re actually putting power back onto the grid,” Lynn said.
However, getting to a full “net-zero” level can be a challenge, Lynn said.
“All of the new technologies that are out right now – wind and especially solar – it’s kind of pricey,” he said.
Lynn says over the span of the 30-year agreement between Fort Hood and Apex Clean for this renewable energy project, Fort Hood will save around $128 million.
Recycling efforts are part of Fort Hood’s mission to be environmentally sustainable. Fifty tons of waste ends up in its landfill, but nearly half can be recycled.
“The progress has been really solid,” Michael Bush with Fort Hood Recycle said. “We actually have over 1,200 containers located through our post that the tenants and also soldiers can use at any time.”
“It helps control our landfill cost here on post and it also generates funds for our installations,” Bush said. “The products that we’re saving on our landfill, we actually sell those products that generate funds that pay for things like the Fourth of July fireworks program, the numerous single soldiers events, anything like your UFC pay-per-views, your boxing pay-per-view fights, those are all paid for by our recycled dollars that we generate.”
Eventually, Fort Hood would like to expand its renewable energy production so it’s sufficient enough if there were any issues with the grid. There haven’t been any blackouts on the grid so far.
“If we were to get to a situation where the grid was to go down, maybe have a blackout due to some sort of mechanical failure or a terrorist incident or something like that, we would like to be in a position where our critical assets – so our airfields, our hospital, our railhead where we would deploy our units, our key command and control facilities – would be able to maintain their electricity and continue their mission during a period of a blackout,” Dosa said.