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MCLB- Albany breaks ground on solar field

April 29, 2016 > Posted in Community, Industry, News, News & Events

Via Jennifer Parks, The Albany Herald

Photo by The Albany Herald

Photo by The Albany Herald

MCLB-ALBANY — A groundbreaking took place Thursday on a solar power facility project aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, further building on energy-efficiency efforts putting the base on track for getting to “net zero” status by next year.

The Department of the Navy and Georgia Power, a subsidiary of the Southern Company, announced earlier this month that they had signed a real estate outgrant to develop a large-scale solar facility at the base. Once completed, the facility is expected to be one of the state’s largest solar installations with the potential generation capacity of 44 megawatts of direct current, or 31 megawatts of alternating current power.

The event Thursday included remarks by Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment Dennis V. McGinn, Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics Lt. Gen. Michael G. Dana, MCLB-Albany Commanding Officer Col. James C. Carroll III, Georgia Power Marketing Senior Vice President Kenneth E. Coleman and Georgia Public Service Commission Vice Chair Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr.

Carroll said the farm reflects the fruition of a team effort and valuable community partnerships.

“I can think of no other place to break ground than at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany. Great things will happen as we work together toward the same goals,” he said.

McDonald said that the project adds to the goal of making Georgia the top state in which to do business and sets up a stable future for the next generation.

“(Becoming business friendly) doesn’t just happen,” he said. “We will measure six years from now and see what the fruits of our labor (have yielded) for us.”

Coleman expanded on the importance of the partnerships involved, also noting the end result will be downward pressure on Georgia Power consumers — including those outside the base’s fenceline.

“We are honored to support the Navy in its mission of energy security and to provide power (that is efficient),” he said.

Under the agreement, Georgia Power will build, own, operate and maintain the solar facility at MCLB-Albany, using the facility to generate electricity for the utility’s electric grid. It will be on a 150-acre corner of the base visible from Mock Road and will have 138,000 southwest-facing fixed panels that could power up to 5,000 homes.

The project is estimated to represent a $75 million investment, Georgia Power officials said.

Dana, a native New Yorker, was complimentary of the setting in Georgia and discussed the significance of energy efficiency from the standpoint of the Marine Corps becoming “heavier and more intensive.”

“This project is a big step forward in moving into the 21st century,” he said.

McGinn described the solar farm — which stands to add jobs and have a lifespan of several decades — in terms of the mission the base has in keeping Marines overseas safe, and as a representation of technology, culture and partnership.

“This is a really special day,” he said Thursday. “Man your shovels.”

The contract was awarded in December, and the “kick-off meeting” took place earlier this year to put the solar field on track for its anticipated operation date of early 2017. The facility is meant to enable the Navy to “meet critical energy and security goals while furthering Georgia Power’s commitment to renewable energy in the state.”

Base officials say the facility will be the second solar collaboration between the Navy and Georgia Power and the fifth solar project the Navy and Southern Company subsidiaries are developing. In total, officials said the Navy brought more than one gigawatt of renewable energy into procurement in 2015, most of which was developed in the past 18 months under the auspices of the Renewable Energy Program Office.

“Representing our Marine Corps Logistics Base in the General Assembly is special, and today is a great day,” said State Rep. Darrel Ealum of District 153. “We just broke ground on what will be the largest of the solar facilities that are being constructed on our military installations throughout Georgia. This project will truly advance our Marine base’s goal for advancing renewable energy.”

A biomass facility in collaboration with Procter & Gamble, and ongoing efforts to expand on the presence of ground source heat pumps with Borehole Thermal Energy Storage, are among the other “green” projects in development at MCLB.