FORT PICKETT, VA, UNITED STATES
FORT PICKETT, Va. – The Virginia National Guard conducted a ceremony to break ground on a new solar array that provides power and energy security to the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute on Fort Pickett, Va., Oct. 14, 2014. The ceremony marks the construction of the Virginia Guard’s first alternative energy project.
The new $2.2 million, 488 kilowatt solar array will be a 10,000 square yard solar field consisting of nearly 2,000 individual solar panels and will provide the RTI with nearly 80 percent of its daytime energy needs. This field is estimated to produce 712,000 kilowatt hours per year and will be installed adjacent to the RTI campus. Additionally, the project has a guaranteed return of investment exceeding $2.6 million over 25 years.
The project is expected to be completed in late December 2014.
“The biggest thing we need to highlight is the opportunity that we have here in terms of making ourselves energy independent,” said Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “It is also making us more in line with what the commonwealth requires of us as the National Guard.”
Williams thanked members of the Fort Pickett-based Virginia Army National Guard Facilities Management Office, the Fort Pickett Garrison, the National Guard Bureau and the surrounding city and county municipalities for their support and attendance at the ceremony.
Since 2008, the Virginia Department of Military Affairs has invested more than $42 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy to help achieve its goal of becoming net zero by 2030. To that end, the Richmond-based Schneider Electric developed a net zero energy master plan for the DMA. The expected benefit to the DMA over the next 25 years is greater than $52 million in total cost avoidance.
Governor Terry McAuliffe published Virginia Executive Order-16 on June 4, 2014, which established the Virginia Energy Council. Contained within the order detailed plans to revise the 2010 Energy Plan and recommend structural and procedural changes to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to better meet the needs of Virginia and the United States.
Virginia currently ranks 26th in the country for renewable energy generation, providing a total of 5.1 percent of the country’s total renewable energy production.
Presidential Executive Orders 13423 and 13514 have directed energy efficient requirements on all federal buildings and installations, resulting in a 30 percent decrease in energy use index by 2015 and a net zero design for 100 percent of new construction by 2020.
“The Virginia Department of Military Affairs and the Virginia Army National Guard began their work to meet these mandates by first conduction energy audits and all facilities and developing a thorough scope of work to improve the efficiencies of energy consuming systems, like heating and air conditioning, and lighting,” said Clifton C. White, deputy facilities management officer, Virginia Army National Guard.
“We partnered with both Schneider Electric and Pepco Energy Systems, using the Commonwealth’s Energy Savings Performance Contract model for the work. Since 2006 we have completed $42 million in energy and facility upgrades, installing much more efficient systems and controls, and will realize an annual savings (cost avoidance) of more than $610,000.”
“By replacing many systems in our buildings that had failed, were failing, or had simply met the end of their useful life we were able to rejuvenate our facility inventory, having a majority of our National Guard facilities across the Commonwealth being built in the 1950’s and 1960’s,” White said. “These projects will see a return on our investment of over $52 million during the life cycle of these improvements.”
In 2009, the White House formally announced that October would be known as “National Energy Awareness Month” to reinforce the importance of energy to the nation. The Department of Defense subsequently adopted the observation, and incorporated an additional “Energy Awareness Week” to focus specifically on military service energy. In 2012, the theme was changed to “Energy Action Month.”
Located at Fort Pickett, the 183rd Regional Training Institute is comprised of the RTI Headquarters and three battalions. First Battalion conducts infantry training, including the 11B Infantryman Military Occupational Specialty Qualification Course, Light Leaders Course and rappel master, while 2nd Battalion conducts the 88M Motor Transport Operator Course. Third battalion includes both Officer Candidate School and Warrant Officer Candidate School and also trains Soldiers as military police officers.
The RTI includes 74 instructors supported by 32 staff personnel. The schoolhouse was completed in 2011 and includes approximately 400,000 square feet of instruction space, including a combatives training room, eight modular classrooms and a lecture hall capable of accommodating 480 students, along with three barracks with two-person rooms and open bay housing that can accommodate 275 students. At Fort Pickett, instructors and students can reach training sites within five minutes and that includes a variety of ranges, convoy and live fire lanes, an urban assault course, training villages, field training lanes, an air assault tower and an extensive urban training site.
“This is a great opportunity to show what the art of the impossible looks like,” Williams concluded.
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