National guard aims to be green

As a way to fulfill executive orders and federal mandates to use more renewable resources, the Army National Guard station near Bethany Beach has set their sights on wind power.

“It’s been in the works for years,” said 2nd Lt. Nathan Bright, public affairs spokesperson for the Delaware National Guard.

He said that, as part of the Department of Defense’s Energy Conservation Program, there are mandates to reduce energy consumption and to get at least half of the station’s energy from new renewable sources, such as wind. The system that has been approved for the Bethany Beach National Guard station will be a self-sustaining system that will provide 100 percent of the station’s energy.

Congress began mandating energy reductions by federal agencies in the 1970s. According to Anthony Andrews’ report from February of this year, Department of Defense Facilities Energy Conservation and Spending, “Early legislation mandated a 10 percent reduction in federal building energy and a recent executive order mandates a 30 percent further reduction by 2015.”

The report also stated that in the 2007 fiscal year, “Defense spending on energy to operate its facilities reached almost $3.5 billion.” In Delaware, the Delaware National Guard, made up of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, spends $1 million in energy costs each year. The Army National Guard training facility in Bethany Beach, at 105 acres, is the only large training facility in the state. There is a second, smaller one in New Castle County.

There is no final design for the system yet, but the proposed wind energy system will have a total capacity of 750 kilowatts, using three 250 KW generators. The estimated federal funding needed for the project is $3.365 million, and the project will compete for funding during the 2009 Department of Defense Energy Conservation Investment Program (DOD ECIP). The station is waiting for an official project number, and then funding to do an environmental assessment through the Army Corps of Engineers. After that, a bid would go out for the design.

“It’s been approved, but there is no final design yet,” said Bright. “We’re excited and eager to have the opportunity. It’s just not going to happen super-fast. We’re hoping and pursuing aggressively to get started. Things just have to fall into place. It would be good for the Guard and the state.”

Other energy-saving Army-approved projects for this year, totaling approximately $27 million, include geothermal projects at Fort Knox, McAlester AAP and Fort Sill; solar projects at Fort Drum, Pohakuloa Training, Fort Buchanan, Adelphi Lab, Aberdeen PG, Schofield Barracks, Fort Bliss and Benelux; a photovoltaic roof system at Fort Dix; and energy-efficiency improvements at Blue Grass AD.