US army fires off $60m contracts for green energy

Siemens and Johnson Controls Inc. have won energy performance contracts from the US Army totaling more than $60m for solar, wind and retrofit projects to improve efficiency.

The Army announced the deals last week, a month following President Obama’s call to all federal agencies to make better use of energy performance contracts - arrangements that enable efficiency projects to be paid for using savings realized from the improvements so that there are no upfront costs to taxpayers. The president directed all federal agencies to pursue at least $2bn in energy upgrades in the next two years.

Siemens and Johnson Controls landed three contracts. Siemens received one; JCI, two. The resulting work is expected to provide the Army with 8.2MW of renewable energy capacity, which would save the service an estimated 267 billion BTUs a year.

Siemens’ $16.8m contract entails installing a 4.44MW photovoltaic solar power system at the White Sands Missile Range. At that capacity, the project would be more than twice the size of the Army’s largest installation, a 2MW system at Fort Carson in Colorado.

The White Sands project is expected to supply more than 10 percent of the site’s needs, save about 10 million kilowatt hours of electricity that would have come from the grid and cut energy costs by about $930,000 a year. Siemens, which received the contract in December, is to complete the installation this year.

Johnson Controls’ nearly $16m contract at Fort Bliss in Texas will bring 5,500 solar panels to the base, generating about 2.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity, according to the Army.

Under the contract, Fort Bliss does not own the solar power system and is not responsible for maintaining it. For hosting the installation, the base will have the benefit of purchasing energy generated by the system at lower rates than would be available from the grid. The arrangement is expected to save the Army about $40m over a 24-year period.

The contract also includes installation of new monitoring and control systems for managing energy in 120 buildings at the base.

The installation of the solar power and energy management systems is Johnson Controls’ fourth project at Fort Bliss.

Johnson Controls also was awarded a roughly $34m contract for improvements at Fort Buchanan and 11 Army Reserve Centers in Puerto Rico.

The work is to include installation of wind and solar PV systems, LED lighting, energy management control systems and other energy solutions. The Army expects to save more than $65m across the life of the 16-year contract.

Schneider Electric, another major player in energy solutions, also won a performance contract recently: an $11.2m deal with the Virginia Department of Military Affairs.

Under the contract, Schneider Electric will complete energy retrofits this year at nine facilities for the department, which comprises the Virginia Army National Guard, the Virginia Air National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force. The work is expected to reduce energy use by 1.5 million kilowatts of electricity a year, which represents a 39 per cent savings.

The contract is part of a $24m energy efficiency initiative within the department.

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