Finally, Some Momentum is Starting to Build

The U.S. Army is launching the first in a series of renewable energy contracts that will total $7 billion by the end of this year. They are using power purchase agreements and a standard procurement tool that is expected to overcome obstacles that are put in its path. That includes the notorious budget sequester as well as objections from the anti-renewable energy crowd in Congress.

The Army’s renewable energy initiative is included in a wonderfully ambitious program that addresses energy, water and waste called Net Zero Vision. For details, go to .  Several years ago a representative from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said, “For those of us who are part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it’s one more day in our journey toward ensuring that our actions are sustainable and that we are the very best stewards we can be of this country, of this planet…We are the nation’s environmental engineer. No other federal agency is addressing environmental issues of the same scope and magnitude as we are…”

Then, in 2011, the Army created the Energy Initiatives Task Force to streamline the process for getting utility-scale renewable energy constructed on its bases, the idea being that on-site energy sourcing is more secure than relying on a remote grid. The idea being that by establishing a defined process, individual base commanders would not have to work so hard to ensure their base was a part of this new, more secure, better for the planet way to power their base.

Under the power purchase agreements the Army pays no up-front costs. These agreements provide that the renewable energy facility is built on Army property but is owned, operated and maintained by its developers, which sell the power it generates to the Army at an agreed-upon price. The contracts will be announced in a series through 2013 for solar, wind and biomass. The geothermal contracts were first up and were announced last week, going to five energy companies: Constellation NewEnergy, ECC Renewables, Enel Green Power North America, LTC Federal, and Siemens Government Technologies.