While Congress keeps wavering on the need to invest in infrastructure improvements to reduce energy usage, many military units are tapping creative solutions to answer the Obama administration’s call for improvements to save energy and create job opportunities in the private sector.
Fort Bliss, an army base about the size of the state of Rhode Island, is outside of El Paso, Texas. It created a forward-looking energy reduction program in 2009 with the goal of becoming the Army’s leadership center for renewable energy. Its vision of energy security has been focused not only on energy conservation and management efforts, but also on renewable resources such as geothermal, solar, wind, and other “off-the-grid” power sources. Recently it signed a $16 million energy efficiency contract with Johnson Controls
. The energy savings performance contract will pay for improvements over a 24-year period with savings on electricity and other utility bills. The project includes the installation of 5,500 solar panels at no cost to the Army. With 330 days of sunshine on average, the El Paso area is a prime location for solar installations. In addition to the panels, daylighting solar “light pipes” are being installed to illuminate building interiors.
The base, which is envisioned as the base to around 34,000 troops and their families, has the goal of being “net zero” in energy consumption by 2015.