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GSA, Army break ground on DoD's largest solar installation

Apr. 25, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
A solar-power project at Fort Huachuca is expected to produce enough electricty to power about 25 percent of the installation.
A solar-power project at Fort Huachuca is expected to produce enough electricty to power about 25 percent of the installation. (Air Force Staff Sgt. Vanessa Val)

The Army and the General Services Administration broke ground April 25 on the largest solar energy project within the Defense Department.

The 155-acre project at Fort Huachuca is expected to produce 18 megawatts of electricity – enough to power about 25 percent of the installation – and will be financed at no cost to taxpayers, according to agency officials.

The utility Tucson Electric Power will build, own and operate the solar installation in exchange for set payments from the Army for the electricity it produces over 10 years – a contracting mechanism offered by GSA.

The solar installation will be built over the summer and will begin providing electricity to the installation in the fall, according to officials.

The project shows the federal government is willing to lead by example and reduce its carbon footprint, according to regional GSA administrator Ruth Cox.

“This project serves as a model for innovative partnering between the government and private industry while also easing our impact on the environment,” Cox said.

Katherine Hammack, the assistant secretary fo the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment said the project is an example of the many ways the Army is partnering with the private sector to produce renewable energy.

“The Fort Huachuca project is greater than the sum of all projects developed last year—quite an accomplishment,” she said.

The new solar panels will also allow the installation to “island” itself off from the local grid and run off the energy produced on site in the event the local power grid goes down.

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