By Dennis V. McGinn
Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment
I look forward to Energy Action Month every year as a key time to reinforce the criticality of reliable energy to accomplishing the Department of the Navy’s (DON) mission. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson has said that “Anybody who has operated at sea or ashore knows that energy is absolutely critical to doing our job.” Every year during Energy Action Month, we focus on new ways to optimize our energy use to chart the course to energy security at home and abroad.
A substantial part of that course was achieving Secretary Mabus’s goal to produce or procure one gigawatt of renewable energy, which Commander, Navy Installations Command; Marine Corps Installations Command; Naval Facilities Engineering Command and Renewable Energy Program Office (REPO) successfully achieved in 2015. These projects will produce the equivalent of half of the DON’s shore energy requirements. Now that the gigawatt is in procurement and construction is underway (and in some cases completed!), the DON is setting sail towards the straits of energy security through resiliency initiatives including: battery storage, micro grids, fuel cells and electrification projects.
By continuing the course towards enhanced resiliency through energy projects, the DON is able to reduce operating costs which will free up resources to support other mission objectives. These projects also make our installations more reliable and resilient, helping to ensure 24/7 access to the power that our warfighters need. And the best part is the DON is not investing its own funding to construct these renewable and resiliency projects. Instead, the DON energy team has developed unique business models to leverage third-party financing. These models provide benefits to the DON, industry and the public. For the DON, this means we gain all the operational benefits of having access to renewables without incurring additional costs.
Record-Breaking Renewables.The DON’s commitment to energy has always been on the cutting edge. . Earlier this month, we celebrated two record-breaking achievements. The first was the proposed solar project at Naval Air Station Lemoore. Clocking in at roughly 167 megawatts, the solar facility will be the largest constructed on DoD land. By itself, it will supply 15 percent of the power needed to meet the one gigawatt goal. The second was the dedication of the Mesquite Solar 3 facility. The 210 megawatt facility will provide a third of the power needed for 14 Navy and Marine Corps installations in the southwest, and is the largest purchase of renewable energy ever made by a federal entity.
These accomplishments lend perspective on how far we’ve come. The successes we achieved in renewables pave the way for a new energy resilient path. With each new project executed, the Navy and Marine Corps energy team is contributing to a broader institutional shift in how the DON views energy. Renewable energy projects were once viewed as purely “green initiatives” that were too costly to be practical. However, now Sailors and Marines at every level are recognizing that energy use is vital to our warfighting capabilities. . Energy is a key point of vulnerability at our installations, but it can also be a foundational strength as we pursue new approaches and technologies.
By continuing to enhance our energy resources on shore, we strengthen our ability to perform our mission worldwide. Constructing renewable generation and enhancing energy security will help us ensure power is never an operational constraint. By innovatively finding ways to make energy projects a reality through industry and public partners, the DON continues to chart the course to energy resiliency that will make us an even more effective fighting force.