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CHIPS Articles: Energy Projects Keep Us Powering On: A Look Back at 2016

Energy Projects Keep Us Powering On: A Look Back at 2016
By The Honorable Dennis V. McGinn, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations & Environment) - December 28, 2016
As my time as ASN EI&E draws to a close, it is with great pride that I look back and reflect on all our accomplishments that enhance the energy security of our Navy and Marine Corps team. And what a fantastic journey it has been. Looking back on 2016, I am reminded of just how far we have come in our efforts to ensure a more secure, reliable and resilient energy future for the Department of the Navy (DON) by more fully and aggressively integrating renewable energy into our power portfolio. What started out as a task force in 2014 quickly grew into a full-fledged program. The Renewable Energy Program Office’s (REPO) partnerships with Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) and Marine Corps Installations Command enabled the Navy to exceed the Secretary of the Navy’s (SECNAV) goal of bringing one gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy into procurement by the end of 2015 – roughly enough energy to power a city the size of Orlando!

This extraordinary and unique partnership greatly facilitated the diversification of installation power sources by fully integrating renewables. These assets, in turn, provide our Sailors and Marines with the protection they need to carry out operations without fear of blackouts or power disruptions which might otherwise impact mission accomplishment. Further, adding renewable energy to an installation’s power portfolio helped stabilize and in many cases, reduced base energy costs, which translated to more money being available to support facilities, training and equipment. And the cost savings really added up when one considers the DON’s electric bill is over one billion dollars each year. Billion. With a “B.” So by taking full advantage of renewable energy, we’re making the DON a strong and more resilient fighting force for years to come.

In Virginia, we celebrated the signing of two renewable energy deals that benefit Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana and Naval Station (NS) Norfolk with SECNAV, the Governor of Virginia and President and CEO of Dominion Resources Inc. (parent company of Dominion Virginia Power) in attendance. In these deals, the DON and Dominion Virginia Power agreed to construct a new 21 megawatt (MW) solar energy facility at NAS Oceana that will supply renewable energy to the Commonwealth of Virginia. At NS Norfolk, a power purchase agreement was concluded for the long-term purchase of 25 MWs of renewable energy that will directly benefit the base.This year alone, the DON conducted four lease signing ceremonies, three ground breaking events, three “flip the switch” celebrations, and unveiled REPO 2.0 which will focus on energy resiliency projects.

In the fall, I joined with the Department of Energy, Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, and the Western Area Power Administration to celebrate the dedication of Mesquite Solar 3, a solar facility providing one-third of the power needed for 14 Navy and Marine Corps installations in California. At 210 MWs, this agreement represents the largest purchase of renewable energy ever made by a federal entity.

But that’s not all! The DON broke yet another record when it signed a deal with Recurrent Energy to build the largest solar PV facility on DoD land at NAS Lemoore (clocking in at an incredible 167 MW). This massive solar facility will have the ability to power more than 23,000 homes.

This diverse list of projects, though vastly different in approaches to securing and diversifying power, emphasizes the innovative nature of REPO and highlights how the DON’s approach to renewable energy is not a one size fits all policy.

We are not resting on our 2016 laurels; the DON is moving full steam ahead into 2017. We will continue to pursue current renewable energy projects, but also to focus on enhancing installation energy resilience. The DON is evaluating new energy technology advances such as battery storage, electrification, fuel cells and microgrids to further enhance the Navy and Marine Corps’ energy security, operational capability, strategic flexibility and resource availability. I look forward to many more exciting, innovative, and large scale future projects.

The end of the year, and my tenure, doesn’t mean an end to our work. Many challenges and opportunities remain. The progress we have made goes beyond our energy bill. It has directly supported the DON’s ability to fulfill its operational mission. Energy will remain an integral part of what we do, and we must continue to build a more resilient energy future. We must continue to focus on energy resiliency initiatives that leverage new technologies and stay the course toward energy security. I am confident you will continue to be successful. It has been my great honor and privilege to serve alongside the best warfighting team on the planet. I look toward the future knowing that we have built a stronger, more resilient Navy and Marine Corps, together.

For details on all of REPO’s projects, visit:

Image courtesy of U.S. Navy.
Image courtesy of U.S. Navy.
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