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Officials celebrate completion of hybrid renewable energy project for Army base

Officials at Apex Clean Energy and the U.S. military are celebrating the completion of a 65.8-MW hybrid renewable energy project that will provide power to the Fort Hood Army base in Bell County, Texas.

The project, which is considered the U.S. Army's largest single renewable energy venture to date, sources 50.4 MW of wind power from the Cotton Plains Wind farm in Floyd County, Texas, and 15.4 MW from an on-base solar facility. It also is the Army's first hybrid renewable energy project that includes both off- and on-base power generation, according to a news release from Fort Hood.

Apex Clean Energy in January 2016 signed a 28-year renewable energy supply agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency Energy, in coordination with the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives and Fort Hood.

Roughly half of Fort Hood's energy demands will be met through the project, which is expected to save U.S. taxpayers $168 million over its lifespan, according to Apex Clean Energy. Fort Hood is considered the largest active-duty armored U.S. military base and has an annual economic impact of over $35 billion in Texas and employs over 60,000 people, the company said.

Apex Clean Energy subsidiary ACE Power, a new retail electric provider, was created as a part of the "innovative deal structure" and will supply 100% of Fort Hood's energy needs through three substations, the company said. Microgrid-ready capabilities, which can boost energy security and provide independence from the grid as necessary, are included in the project's design.

"Clean and reliable renewable energy can help make our military bases stronger, more robust, and more adaptable to the threats of a changing world," Apex Clean Energy President and CEO Mark Goodwin said at a June 2 ribbon cutting ceremony at Fort Hood. "The vision shown here will be increasingly recognized as other bases and branches of our military seek to replicate the economic performance and energy security provided [by] this project."

Richard Kidd IV, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for strategic integration, said the project helps bring the Army closer to achieving energy security and resiliency. Additionally, it will help support Fort Hood's vital missions by ensuring access to an important resource supply and by boosting the Army's portfolio of alternative and renewable energy projects, according to Kidd.

Defense officials have urged President Donald Trump and his administration to stick with a security initiative to deploy advanced energy technology, including renewables, at military installations, maintaining that they are cost-effective and increase readiness and resiliency. While budget constraints and resistance in Congress have hampered energy security efforts, a report commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts said that growing concerns about cyber attacks have prompted lawmakers to question if more funds should be spent on "secure on-site power" like renewable energy.