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Biomass Gets A Slice Of Army’s $7 Billion Renewable Energy Pie

We’ve been following the US Army Corps of Engineers’ ambitious $7 billion renewable energy plan, and it looks like the first round of contracts has concluded with smooth sailing. The public-private initiative will use Department of Defense properties as sites for utility scale solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass facilities that will be built and operated by private companies. DoD in turn will benefit from access to cheaper, safer, more reliable power. The first three areas were awarded earlier this year, with biomass bringing up the rear.

Since the facilities will be built under power purchase agreements, the US taxpayer does not bear any up-front costs (the figure of $7 billion refers to the value of the energy).

$7 Billion For Renewable Energy

As with the other three areas, the biomass awards are what DoD calls Multiple Award Task Order Contracts, which are typically used for engineering and architecture services. Basically, it’s a way to streamline the contracting procedure by pre-qualifying bidders, before the actual jobs are identified.

That will depend on site assessments and analysis for cost-effective opportunities to convert biomass, including municipal solid waste, to energy. Once the sites are identified, the next step is for USACE to issue competitive request-for-proposals to the eligible bidders.

The streamlined procedure puts the Corps of Engineers in synch with the Army’s new Energy Initiatives Task Force, a team of experts who have the experience to package utility-scale facilities at Army bases. That relieves individual base commanders from having to reinvent the wheel with every new project.

The companies tapped for biomass including the heavy hitters Honeywell International and Siemens Government Technologies, along with Acciona Energy North America Corporation, ECC RenewablesL LC, EDF Renewable Energy, Emerald Infrastructure, Energy Answers International Inc., EIF United States Power Fund IV L.P., Energy Management Inc., Energy Systems Group LLC, MidAmerican/Clark JV, Pacolet Milliken Enterprises Inc., and Stronghold Engineering Inc.

Don’t Forget The Solar Power

We’ve already covered DoD’s wind and geothermal contracts under the $7 billion initiative, but somehow we skipped over solar so let’s catch up with that.

The solar power part was awarded this past August. This group also includes some familiar players in the renewable energy and utility fields, including Borrego Solar, Dominion Energy Inc., Enel Green Power North America, Johnson Controls Government Systems, NRG Energy Inc., Siemens Government Technologies Inc., and Sunpower Corporation.

If Borrego Solar rings a bell, last year we profiled one of its project managers, former Army Captain Jon Gensler, who eloquently described the consequences of military oil dependency as reflected in the new documentary, The Burden.

As for why DoD is in such a big hurry to get $7 billion worth of renewable energy projects in the ground, even the anti-climate science think tank American Enterprise Institute has come around to the idea that dependency on a globalized energy market – namely, the petroleum market – is a disruptive force and a drag on the economy, to say nothing of an increasing burden on the Department of Defense.

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Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Spoutible.


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