Courtesy of US Army

How The Army Solar Power Program Is Like The Affordable Care Act

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Fresh on the heels of breaking ground on its largest-ever single solar installation of 18 megawatts (MW), the Army solar power program is upping the ante with “Georgia 3×30.” Like the name says, that’s not one but three new 30-MW projects, for Fort Stewart, Fort Gordon, and Fort Benning. Once those arrays are up and running, a whopping 18 percent of the energy consumed by the Army in Georgia will come from on site, clean, renewable, sources. Good, no?

Army solar power
Courtesy of US Army

The Army Solar Power Program And The ACA

As for the hate thing, that’s why we’re dragging the Affordable Care Act into this, so bear with us for a bit.

Who could hate health care reform that actually works? The ACA is far from perfect (as if such a thing exists), but despite the generously funded efforts to whip up public sentiment against the reforms over the past four years, now they are in place, and millions of Americans are benefiting from them.

As a result of the real life impacts of ACA, while public opinion polls still track against the ACA brand, opinion has shifted in favor of the law’s benefits, to the extent that Republican opponents are beginning to back away from leveraging their  mid-term campaign strategy around repealing ACA (that’s okay, they still have #Benghazi!).

Meanwhile, Democratic candidates are shedding their reluctance to campaign on ACA, a major public policy achievement for which their party can claim as its own.

Now apply that dynamic to the intense Republican pushback against renewable energy, and you can see the parallel to the ACA. Despite all the anti-renewable rhetoric from the Republican side of the aisle, the Army solar power projects are living proof that transitioning out of fossil fuel dependency is yielding real-life benefits.

For starters, there’s the falling cost of solar power, which Republicans can’t wish away. Then there’s the risk avoidance benefits of clean energy, which are unspooling in real time as more real people have been experiencing the real public health and economic impacts from the most recent string of fossil fuel disasters.

High-profile disasters are just the tip of the iceberg. Throw in the impacts of fossil fuel harvesting, including regional economic malaise (coal), declining property values (gas and oil fracking), public health hazards (more fracking), and even earthquakes (fracking wastewater disposal), and you’ve got more real people — and more eligible voters — who have a deep, personal interest in supporting clean energy.

The Koch Brothers, ACA, And Army Solar Power

We’re also dragging the ACA into this because of the Koch connection. The Koch brothers are already notorious for their enthusiastic funding of Americans For Prosperity, which played a key role in the supposedly “grassroots” campaign to prevent passage of the ACA back in 2010. The result was to whip anti-reform sentiment into a frenzied froth of hate culminating in a series of raucous town hall meetings in the summer of 2010.

As major stakeholders in the fossil fuel industry, the three Koch brothers (yes, including the “invisible” one), have also pumped millions into organizations feeding sentiment against public policies that support renewable energy. If you remember the publicity over the Solyndra bankruptcy hearings a while back, that’s a classic example of the way it works.

As for why it’s so important to undermine voter support for solar-friendly policies, check out the latest Koch strategy: a coordinated state-level, legislative attack on existing public policies that enable individuals to realize the full benefits of installing solar power on their property.

We’re going to go out on a limb here and guess that the Koch interest in anti-ACA activity has little to do with health policy, and much more to do with undermining voter support for Democratic and moderate Republican representatives who support clean energy policies.

More Army Solar Power For Georgia

That brings us right back around to the latest Army solar power announcement. If you follow this link, you’ll see it belongs to and not EITF is the Army’s Energy Initiatives Task Force, which launched in 2011 with the goal of ramping up Army solar power and other forms of renewable energy.

EITF is specifically focused on utility-scale systems constructed on Department of Defense property, as evidenced by the aforementioned Arizona project (at Fort Huachuca) and the new “Georgia 3×30” group.

If you haven’t been hearing howls of protest about EITF activities from the usual suspects, it’s probably because there is nothing to protest.  The funding mechanism is the now-familiar power purchase agreement, which involves no up-front investment by taxpayers.

To ice the cake, other EITF projects have involved significant cost savings for the Army, though for the Georgia projects there will be no change in utility rates.

The three projects do accomplish other important EITF goals regarding energy security for Army facilities, including supply assurance and long term affordability (to that we’ll add reducing exposure to price spikes).

The clean energy angle also dovetails with the Army Net Zero vision, in which environmental stewardship, community relations, and public health play key roles.

Along with Forts Stewart, Gordon, and Benning, partnering with EITF to get the projects off the ground are the General Services Administration and the utility Georgia Power. Groundbreaking will take place later this year and the three arrays will be operational in 2015.

So…how long do you think it’ll be before our friends over at Koch Industries go after the Army?

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

Tina Casey has 3152 posts and counting. See all posts by Tina Casey

52 thoughts on “How The Army Solar Power Program Is Like The Affordable Care Act

  • Far be it from me to defend these horrible people, but it’s a stretch to think the Kochs’ opposition to ACA comes from their opposition to renewable energy. They are stupid cranks who are spending large inherited fortunes to pursue their reactionary politics across the board. The obsession goes well beyond a defence of their financial interests, which they could protect pragmatically by hedging their portfolios with renewable plays like Warren Buffett. As Aristotle said (classic argument from authority!), “men do not become tyrants to keep out the cold”.

    Rational plutocrats must be wishing the Kochs would shut up. Their crude extremism is creating an all-American backlash. ALEC’s scorched-earth opposition to state renewable incentives, supported by many Republicans and even Tea Partiers, is for example making a transition to compromise solar VOSTs less likely.

    • The Koch brothers came by their extreme right wing beliefs in the same way they gained their fortune. They inherited both from their very rich, very right wing father, Fred.

      Fred Koch was one of the founders of the John Birch Society. The John Birch Society called Ike Eisenhower a socialist. The JBS was the Tea Party of its time.

      “The organization claims to identify with Christian principles, seeks to limit governmental powers, and opposes wealth redistribution, and economic interventionism. It opposes collectivism, totalitarianism, and communism. It opposes socialism as well, which it asserts is infiltrating US governmental administration. In a 1983 edition of Crossfire, Congressman Larry McDonald (D-Georgia), then its newly appointed president, characterized the society as belonging to the Old Right rather than the New Right.[14]

      The society opposed the 1960s civil rights movement and claimed the movement had communists in important positions. In the latter half of 1965, the JBS produced a flyer entitled “What’s Wrong With Civil Rights?”, which was used as a newspaper advertisement.[15][16] In the piece, one of the answers was: “For the civil rights movement in the United States, with all of its growing agitation and riots and bitterness, and insidious steps towards the appearance of a civil war, has not been infiltrated by the Communists, as you now frequently hear. It has been deliberately and almost wholly created by the Communists patiently building up to this present stage for more than forty years.”[17] The society opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming it violated the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and overstepped individual states’ rights to enact laws regarding civil rights. The society opposes “one world government”, and it has an immigration reduction view on immigration reform. It opposes the United Nations, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), and other free trade agreements. They argue the U.S. Constitution has been devalued in favor of political and economic globalization, and that this alleged trend is not accidental. It cited the existence of the former Security and Prosperity Partnership as evidence of a push towards a North American Union.[18]”

      Nuts don’t fall far from the tree….

      • Take a look at Bircher pamphlets:

      • The JBS also pointed out that Mandela and Castro were communists when the US regime and its hacks in the media were telling us all that they were democracy-loving freedom fighters. Now we know the JBS has been right all along and their critics were wrong.

          • A “real” libertarian attacking the JBS? ROFL! Mises and Rothbard, both of whom worked with JBS, were real libertarians. You are a fraud.

      • What Jesus going say when you delete this ? are you a poor steward of “his creation” that you remove and delete this statements, yet you are kicking butts in his name on the internet to justify your sins.

        Why don’t you care about other in the fate.??????

        “Bob STATEMENT” “If Jesus were to come back today he’d probably kick your butt for being such a poor steward of “his creation”.

        “And for failing to care about the fate of others.”

        “(PS, you are scientifically illiterate.)”

        • He’s going to say “Great job, Bob” and do a bro-fist.

          • After reading this comment, I am amazed how little is known about Jesus. It is presented as (1) a kick in the Butt (2) is the bro-fist and who knows what else. Furthermore, a Jesus of CO2, a Jesus of solar panels, a Jesus of climate change, a Jesus of sea rises , a Jesus of greenhouse gases, a Jesus of wind turbines and so on and on.

            The Good Manager Camp Left side.

            These days we have two major camps, the evangelical in the left, that try to make believe that we have to fix his creation or at least keep it in good repair order.

            The Do Nothing Camp Right Side

            On the other side is the do nothing manages camp, say, it’s good to increase CO2, because they claim it makes the earth more habitable, for instance, more warmer weather.

            After reading all this material, one need too ask, what Jesus do we believe, and what Bible do we read.

            Should we believe in Jesus of Matthew Ch: 24, and in Revelation Ch: 1?

    • Much as I wish they were spending their fortunes to pursue reactionary politics, the fact is that their multi-million per year political expenditures are just pocket change to their $100 Billion fortune.

      (Just to be clear, I wish that their expenditures were enough of a drain on their fortunes that it couldn’t continue for long. Sadly, that’s not the case.)

  • First off, the primary reason the US economy has bounced back as strongly as it has is because of fracking…just as a big aspect of the Reagan/Clinton boom had to do with cheap oil.

    Cheap natural gas has reduced our carbon emissions and it will power our EVs. So conservatives in the fossil fuel industry have done far more to improve the economy and reduce carbon emissions recently than liberals. I support clean energy and EV tax credits, but I welcome opposition to them and the fact that we know the tax credits are going away sooner rather than later just means we have to improve the technologies faster…which is actually happening!

    • Natural gas has played a very large role recently in our energy mix. It’s been called the bridge fuel between coal and renewables.

      Citigroup recently described NG as a “short bridge”. They foresee a rapid onset of storage along with the rapidly falling prices of wind and solar leading to a fading out of gas over the following years.

      (If conservatives helped reduce CO2 levels it was an accident on their part. One that many of them would regret.)

      • I agree with you that solar and wind are going to be competitive with natural gas because natural gas prices will rise while wind and solar and battery prices fall. EVs are about to surge in popularity with the next generation vehicles, so each new EV will consume over 10 kWh of electricity per day.

        Maybe conservatives didn’t mean to reduce emissions, but the reduction in carbon emissions over the last several years is directly attributable to cheap natural gas produced from fracking.

        Maybe climate change could be a good thing, but I doubt conservatives regret reducing carbon emissions when it has meant more jobs, more tax revenue, higher standard of living, and a stronger America!

        • Climate change could benefit a few people. For a limited amount of time.

          And then everyone will suffer on a massive scale if we continue to heat the planet as we currently are.

          We’ll have to work hard to keep the right wing and its knuckleheads from screwing things up. They’re doing an excellent job at the moment in Australia.

      • The remarkable 212-month absence of global warming, notwithstanding a record rate of increase in CO2 concentration. The Pause – the zero least-squares trend on the data for the past 17 years 8 months – now extends to just over half the entire 423-month Remote Sensing Systems satellite record since January 1979.

    • It’s *highly* debatable whether or not the often-cited CO2 emission benefits of natural gas are actually there in reality. Methane leak tests are done at sites selected by the natural gas industry and the studies don’t take into account leaks that occur during the drilling process.

      I know many people want to be hopeful and want to think that natural gas is helping solve the problem. Frankly, from the research I’ve seen, I think that is all primarily hype based on very limited/faulty research.

      • I can’t find any US yearly methane emission data that covers 2012/2013. Know of any?

          • Oil and natural gas production is pretty much exempt from fugitive emissions reporting. The US EPA has little to no regulatory power over oil and gas production – so the well field, pipelines, well field processing and transmission pipeline data is pretty much a guess. I believe the EPA GHG emissions report states this in a caveat (I forgot where I read it when that report came out).

            States are suppose to volunteer this information – if they were to require industry to collect it. E&P oil and gas exemption has been in place since about the 1970s.

            That’s why environmental NGOs like Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), with the help of billionaires like Bloomberg and the estate of George Mitchell (father of fracking), are doing a comprehensive methane emissions study right now. It’s a 15 part project, where only 1 part has been published. Any study on methane emissions from fracking or oil/gas field sources done lately, i.e. Cornell, NOAA et al, is not a US EPA work product. Therefore is is not actionable. Meaning nothing can be done without US regulatory involvement. We can hope, but that’s it.

            For a bit on the snafu about GHG monitoring from oil and gas exploration and production – the link below is fairly up-to-date. Obama admin has been working on this issue to no avail.


          • “Oil and natural gas production is pretty much exempt from fugitive emissions reporting. The US EPA has little to no regulatory power over oil and gas production” The Cheney rule?

          • How about the methane emissions from coal mines? Other sources : vegetation decay, agriculture?

          • hasn’t been measured much.

    • And as far as liberals vs conservatives having a bigger effect: if conservatives in Congress weren’t using the filibuster for absolutely everything thanks to a black man being president, we could have had a price on carbon in the US. *That* would have been something to cheer about.

      • A tax on carbon would reduce the standard of living of our poorest citizens while barely impacting elites living in Manhattan and San Francisco. Fracking is actually creating good jobs for people with high school and community college educations. You must think Americans should be happy with food stamps and Medicaid, but some people want to work their asses off in the natural gas fields so they can better support their family!

        • A tax on carbon with the revenue used to subsidize electricity prices would mean little change in monthly electricity bills.

          Better that Americans work their asses off installing solar panels and wind turbines. And as the storage industry grows Americans can work their asses off there as well.

          Families supported and their futures improved from slowed climate change.

          • The US is reducing emissions without a carbon tax and solar panels and wind turbines are being installed in record numbers even in red states…so most reasonable people are happy with the status quo.

            People that support climate change action need to do less preaching like Al Gore and more doing like Elon Musk! If you believe climate change will have disastrous effects then you should devote your energy to technologies that reduce emissions while increasing standard of living like EVs…and I have no problem with lobbying for tax credits and subsidies like the EV and wind tax credit (the Hummer H2 and ethanol have received tax credits after all).

            That said, a carbon tax is simply the dumbest thing ever seriously discussed at a national level…and I say that as somebody that voted for Gore, Kerry, and Obama!!

          • US is still way over the level in 1990. The world reference point, while Europe is below.

          • The fact that carbon emissions have declined in the US is a miracle because Americans don’t care about climate change. The leaders of climate change action like Al Gore have done much more harm than good because they are hypocrites…a staffer had to force Obama to sell his V-8 in 2007 for a hybrid because Democratic leades simply do not want to make even the tiniest personal sacrifice for climate change.

            Liberals should acknowledge failure, embrace fracking, pick new leaders like Elon Musk, and come up with a better way to fight climate change.

          • Gene, you’re just poorly informed. Americans care about climate change. They are willing to spend some money on the problem. It’s just not the most immediate problem for many.

            Al Gore has done a great job of making Americans aware of the problem we face. You can judge his success by the viciousness with which the fossil fuel industry and its friends attack him.

          • I voted for Gore and think he would have been a better president than Bush. Gore has clearly been very successful and he does deserve credit for being involved with tech companies that are changing the world.

            That said, he needs to focus more on technology and less on preaching…remember, he “lost” to Bush because people found his personality off putting even though they believed he was competent.

          • I suspect you don’t realize how many people really became aware of climate change due to Al’s “preaching”.

            Al might not be a slick as Ronnie, but at least he is selling us legitimate goods and not BS.

          • “The dumbest thing ever seriously discussed”-yes,we all know that taxing payroll,income,and investment makes so much more can’t just be a few carrots like ev tax credits.let’s start replacing the first $10,000 of income liable to payroll tax,and increase it by $10,000 each year until we replace,revenue neutral,the entire tax.then see how many people get employed doing retrofits,solar panels,wind turbines,etc.

          • We need both Al Gores and Elon Musks. We need to be kept informed and we need people working on solutions.

            We have started to cut our CO2 emissions but we’d be smart to cut them faster. A price on carbon would be a help.

          • Less preaching? What are you doing right now? Make you a deal, go back and ask the Caulk brothers to stop funding their “distort the science” campaigns and then we can move forward on and even footing right after they remove the subsidies of dirty energy which get on average 12 times the subsidies of renewables. You comments are very uneducated and quite ridiculous on this site that is educating people. Perhaps they would do a better job on the yahoo site.

          • The US was reducing emissions as a result of the great recession. No longer true, for the time being.

          • If i was a coal miner, I’d rather be out on a roof installing solar panels.

        • I am so tired of hearing that our standard of living will go down if we decide to solve a problem. No one is going to take your toilet pepper away from you nut jobs. On the contrary, innovation in solving the problem will create wealth across the board. A green industrial revolution is already happening and gaining strength. The only reason nut jobs like you cry over this change is because you are afraid (emotionally based) your life will change for the worse instead of for the better. And that is because people like the caulk brothers have fed you nonsense.

          • Please don’t call other commenters names. Even names that seem appropriate.

          • Thanks for trying to keep this discussion civil, the degrees on my wall would seem to indicate I am not an idiot so being called names does not bother me. I prefer to debate and I think I have a slightly different perspective because I happen to interested in clean energy (I drive a Prius and I am looking forward to the next gen Volt) but I have become more conservative after voting for Obama in 2008.

            Liberals opposition to fracking was really the moment I threw up my hands and realized they didn’t want solutions, they just wanted to complain. Fracking solves the major problems I was concerned about in 2008, it creates good jobs for average Americans, it is making us energy independent (I hate OPEC), it provides tax revenue that states need, it lowers carbon emissions, it is increasing standard of living by helping our economy grow after the faux growth of the Bush years.

          • Fracking may help lower GHG emissions. The jury is still out on the amount of methane that is being leaked by fracking/wells and whether it will be contained.

            A 1:1 coal -> NG exchange may not buy use anything if we don’t contain the methane.

            If we contain the methane and use NG only as a fill-in for wind and solar then NG can be a useful tool while we wait for better storage.

            NG wells are messing up a lot of land that was previously not “industrialized”. I understand why some are very unhappy about that. There are a lot of environmental problems. Not everyone has the same priorities.

          • Solar panels, wind turbines, and EVs will combine for cheaper electricity…so they will improve our standard of living while decreasing carbon emissions. Businesses are already increasing standard of living while reducing carbon emissions. Solar City installs solar panels that reduce electricity bills, Megabus provides cheap comfortable transportation while barely emitting any emissions on a per passenger basis, Tesla is manufacturing a superior automobile that is much more efficient than other vehicles in its class…this is how capitalism works and it is ok for Musk or Megabus to exploit tax credits or use roads we all pay for, so I am not against tax credits or gasoline taxes.

  • The GOP is the speed bump to progress in health care as well as clean energy.

  • 18%? Good . . . but they can do much better. 130% of my net electricity needs are met by my solar PV array . . . and that includes powering an electric car.

  • Greed and right wing BS is sending this country into a tail spin. and for fill NASA prophecy. Dumb republicans who think there rich but just dumb like this agenda

  • Learn how to deal with Obamacare in a right way through this video in No more sleepless nights for you as this video teaches you strategies that are both easy and viable that can be done to save you from the effects of Obamacare.

    • The Party of no offered nothing in the wake of Obama care. Except. at least this program works for a lot of people who needed to have this done for some hurting Americans without any coverage at all. The party of no is trying there hardest with there proper-gander machine to discredit this program. This is all they have to offer. The famous NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO oh we did a good job in congress doing nothing for the people.

      • The current party of no essentially designed Obama-care in response to Hilary care. Once Bush was elected Democrats tried on the mantle of “party of no,” with less control over the rank and file (no tea party, threats?). What goes around comes around?

  • Not mentioned is the fact that application of solar power in overseas military bases / war zones has the undeniable advantage of reducing the volume of fuel needing to be trucked through danger zones so potentially saving lives.

    • Not mentioned, it’s kinda the whole point!

  • DOD is a great validator for the benefits of solar energy and at first blush the 3X30 projects in Georgia appear to be another proof point. However, when you dig a little deeper, you understand that there could be better options for these bases.

    According to public documents, Georgia Power will build, own and operate the systems which will feed into the grid, which they also own. In addition, the bases aren’t seeing any cost savings. The problem here is lack of competition. Georgia Power interprets Georgia State Law as prohibiting third party PPAs. If it did allow third party PPA’s we would see real competition from private developers which would not only bring costs down, but also provide greater control and optionality to DOD.

    We need to decide if it’s better for the nation, and better for the DOD to simply stop relying on 40 USC 591 as a reason why it can’t sign a 3rd party PPA and do these 90 MWs the way they should be done. By solar companies, and NOT the very same utilities who are working hard in the SE to keep 3rd party PPAs illegal.

    There’s no rush. Let’s do this right.

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