New Task Force to Promote Energy Initiatives
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2011 A new task force to stand up by mid-September will take the Army’s energy initiatives to the next level with a goal of getting 25 percent of the Army’s power from renewable sources by 2025, Army Secretary John M. McHugh announced yesterday.
The Energy Initiatives Task Force for Large-scale Renewable Energy Projects will build on efforts already under way at Army installations worldwide, McHugh said at theGovEnergy Conference in Cincinnati.
The Army already has 126 renewable projects, he noted, including a major solar project at Fort Irwin, Calif., that, once completed, will stretch across an area the size of Manhattan in New York.
“We think we’ve made a great start,” he said, citing initiatives that include microgrids, solar and natural gas. “But to meet our longer-term objectives,” he added, “we have to do better.”
The new task force will seek new ways to partner with the private sector on a variety of large-scale renewable energy and alternative energy programs within the continental United States. McHugh estimated that meeting the 2025 objective will require about $7.1 billion in private investment.
Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, said the task force will help advance energy concepts that make financial sense for everyone: the private sector, the Army and the American taxpayer.
This is “the right thing to do for the environment --certainly in this age of diminishing resources --the right thing to do for federal taxpayers, and most importantly, the right thing to do for our soldiers,” McHugh said.
Energy-saving initiatives the task force promotes will complement others taking place across the Defense Department, McHugh said.
DOD uses about 80 percent of the federal government’s energy, with the Army consuming about 21 percent of that total.
“So we view ourselves as a target-rich environment in terms of trying to do a better job with taxpayer dollars, trying to do a better job in our stewardship of the environment,” he said.
Most importantly, McHugh said, the Army’s energy initiatives will affect force protection in Iraq and Afghanistan. Less reliance on renewable fuels at combat outposts and forward operating bases, as well as fewer convoys, not only saves energy, he said, but also reduces enemy exposure for soldiers who support those energy requirements.