The solar-friendly State of California has positioned itself in opposition to Trump Administration policies on energy and climate change, and it looks like the Air Force is in California’s corner. Last week the sprawling Los Angeles Air Force Base — home of the Space and Missile Systems Center — entered into an $11 million energy modernization project with Honeywell that includes rooftop solar arrays on four buildings.
Under the Obama Administration, Los Angeles AFB was an early adopter of renewables, electric vehicles, vehicle-to-grid systems and other low carbon technology. Apparently the Air Force has no intention of slowing down now that a fossil fuel fan has taken up residence in the White House.
Money-Saving Solar Power For Los Angeles Air Force Base
The new $11 million energy project is a soup-to-nuts makeover that will pay for itself within a reasonable amount of time.
It’s a first-of-its-kind project for the US Air Force Civil Engineer Center, which awarded the contract. The Department of Defense pays no money up front for the improvement. All of the costs are covered by energy savings, and then some.
In a press release, Honeywell teased out a statement from Los Angeles Air Force Base that gently reminds the taxpaying public of the benefits of low carbon energy:
As a critical location for the U.S. Air Force, we strive to ensure the services we provide meet the highest standards of excellence, and the same should be said of our building infrastructure…This project is a way for us to keep base facilities operating optimally and in the most environmentally and budget-sound way possible.
According to Honeywell, the project will shave about 17% off the facility’s energy use. The savings will average about $800,000 per year for the life of the contract. That’s a 23-year contract so group hug for all of us taxpayers.
The rooftop solar panels — 3,400 of them spread out over four buildings — will account for about 10% of Los Angeles AFB’s energy use.
The project also includes lighting, AC, and irrigation upgrades.
Meanwhile, Over In New Jersey…
Air Force renewable energy projects that began under the Obama Administration are also continuing to play out under the Trump Administration.
Last December, New Jersey’s Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst broke ground on a new solar array. Clocking in at 50,000 solar panels and 16.5 megawatts, when completed it will be the largest US military solar farm in the Northeast.
In a press release announcing the new project, the Air Force voiced some thoughts on the importance of solar power for national defense:
This is a great example of a cleaner, more resilient project, and we’re going to be doing more of them…This project demonstrates the innovative pathways our Airmen and civilians are taking to strengthen mission assurance through energy assurance.
Did you catch that thing about “more of them?”
Like Los Angeles AFB, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst also emphasized the benefits to taxpayers:
Solar power is one of the most efficient and affordable energy alternatives today…Whether you’re interested in solar power because of its economic or environment impact, during these times of budgetary constraints on the federal side and the state side, I think we can all agree this joint solar project could not happen at a greater time.
…And Then There’s Utah…
The Air Force is also going full speed ahead with construction of a new Innovation Center on the grounds of Hill Air Force Base in Utah.
The Innovation will come under the umbrella of the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative, with the aim of leveraging Air Force support for technology startups.
Hill AFB is already a job-creating machine for Utah and the new facility is expected to generate even more by forging a “Silicon Hill” identity for growing tech employment in the northern area of the state.
USTAR launched about 10 years ago, when state policymakers charted a new science-based path for economic development, leveraging its academic research assets:
Utah’s economic future is at stake. Without a carefully planned strategy, Utah will certainly grow, but not with high-paying jobs that support a family and that generate sufficient tax revenues to support our large education burden…Low salaries have social consequences: more families needing multiple incomes to survive economically, higher bankruptcy rates, the lowest per-pupil education spending in the nation. We must aspire to be a high-wage state.
…In the globally-competitive Knowledge Age, Utah is falling behind, even as science and technology are advancing rapidly, spawning entirely new industries and high-tech businesses.
Ouch! So much for bringing back coal jobs.
Speaking of the Knowledge Age, new EPA chief Scott Pruitt might want to take a refresher course or two at the University of Utah. Here’s a snippet from the school’s Geology department:
As the impacts of climate change become more severe over the coming years and decades, companies, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations will be required to adapt and respond to climate change. Scientifically-based, up-to-date knowledge is essential to formulating adaption and response strategies. A certificate in climate change is marketable evidence of this essential knowledge.
Photo: via Los Angeles Air Force Base.