Pentagon Official Lauds Services for Energy Strategies

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2011 — The Defense Depart­ment is the largest ener­gy user in the coun­try, but the mil­i­tary ser­vices are doing their part to fur­ther renew­able ener­gy, a senior Pen­ta­gon offi­cial said here today.

Speak­ing at the Amer­i­can Coun­cil on Renew­able Ener­gy, Dorothy Robyn, deputy under­sec­re­tary of defense for instal­la­tions and envi­ron­ment, praised the ser­vices for their efforts in sup­port of the Defense Department’s ener­gy strat­e­gy.

“Each of the ser­vices has a very impres­sive approach,” she said. “The Navy got out there first. The Navy, of course, has been doing geot­her­mal for many years.”

Robyn chron­i­cled each ser­vice branch’s projects and efforts on instal­la­tions through­out the coun­try, with the Navy lead­ing the way. “Chi­na Lake is a 270-megawatt geot­her­mal plant that has been oper­at­ing since 1987,” she said. “The Navy has been tak­ing advan­tage of [U.S. Code] 2922A author­i­ty pow­er pur­chase author­i­ty.

“We are the only agency that can use that author­i­ty for up to 30 years,” Robyn con­tin­ued. “That author­i­ty orig­i­nal­ly had to go up to [Sec­re­tary of Defense Leon E. Panet­ta] for approval. It’s now been del­e­gat­ed to me, so I now sign off on these projects. The Navy has exer­cised some agree­ments that go out 20 years. One of them will put a 13-megawatt solar [pho­to­volta­ic] plant at Chi­na Lake.”

With each ser­vice car­ry­ing out projects, Robyn said, she may fur­ther del­e­gate the USC 229A author­i­ty to her ser­vice coun­ter­parts. The Army stood up its Ener­gy Ini­tia­tives Office over the sum­mer, Robyn said.

“The Army believes that to achieve their goals for renew­able ener­gy, they need to do $7 bil­lion worth of renew­able ener­gy projects on their instal­la­tions,” she said. “So they have recruit­ed a gen­tle­man from the Depart­ment of Ener­gy to kick off this office. It is a big, big effort, [and] it will be almost entire­ly done using third-par­ty financ­ing.”

Robyn cit­ed Nel­lis Air Force Base as one of the “crown jew­els” of DOD, not­ing that its ener­gy ini­tia­tives prompt­ed a vis­it from Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma in May 2009.

The sheer size of the Defense Depart­ment — with 300,000 build­ings and 200,000 fleet vehi­cles makes ener­gy projects all the more impor­tant, Robyn told the audi­ence.

“We are … the largest ener­gy user in the coun­try,” she said. “We have a big bill, even by DOD stan­dards, because we have such a large built infra­struc­ture. We have three times more build­ing space even than Wal-Mart, [and] six times more than [the Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion].”

As with any large-scale orga­ni­za­tion, Robyn point­ed out, the Defense Depart­ment faces chal­lenges.

“We have more than 400 threat­ened and endan­gered species on our instal­la­tions,” she said. “We are, among oth­er things, a seri­ous envi­ron­men­tal stew­ard. As with all things, we do that out of self-inter­est. We take care of threat­ened and endan­gered species to pre­serve the land so we can use it for test­ing and train­ing. The desert tor­toise is a par­tic­u­lar chal­lenge for any of you try­ing to do solar in the south­west.”

Robyn expressed opti­mism in the DOD’s efforts mov­ing for­ward in terms of ener­gy strat­e­gy and work­ing with the Amer­i­can Coun­cil on Renew­able Ener­gy.

“We’re very excit­ed about what we’re doing,” she said. “We think this is just absolute­ly crit­i­cal to it, and [I] look for­ward to work­ing with you in the com­ing months and years.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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