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WRIGHTSTOWN ― Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst broke ground Thursday on a massive solar array and energy efficiency project, one that will provide nearly 32 megawatts of renewable energy once complete, according to energy company Ameresco, Inc.
The $140 million project will include 18 megawatts of rooftop solar panels, 13.7 megawatts of ground solar panels and 2 megawatt — or 4 megawatt-hours — of battery storage for the Joint Base, according to the energy company.
The project should save the Joint Base about $4.7 million annually in energy costs, according to base spokesman Derek VanHorn. Overall energy usage at the facility should drop about 22% as a result of the upgrades, with electricity use declining 42%, he said.
Ground solar arrays will be installed near the McGuire gate and between multiple hangers on the Lakehurst side of the Joint Base, he said. The project also includes the installation of a microgrid to supply power to critical base buildings and infrastructure in the event that the surrounding commercial grid loses power, he said.
A massive battery system for the solar array and backup gas-fired generators are part of the project, VanHorn said.
Work also will be performed to increase the efficiency of the base’s heating, cooling and ventilation systems, he said.
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“(In the event of an attack or grid outage) our critical buildings will still be fully operational, displaying how our resiliency has increased while responding and recovering from a disruption,” 787th Civil Engineer Squadron Chief of Energy Alexander Vincent said in a news release.
The first phase of the project, the rooftop solar installation, should be complete before the end of the year, Ameresco officials said.
In August, President Joe Biden’s administration announced the Climate Smart Buildings Initiative, which requires federal buildings to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through investments into energy-efficient technology and carbon-free energy sources. The federal initiative also aims to support private sector renewable energy companies, which are tasked with the work.
The program aims to reduce carbon emissions from federal buildings by 50% by 2032.
“We’re eager to get started on the integration of advanced clean technologies to create a more resilient and sustainable energy future for the base and deliver a project that meets the installation’s mission requirements while also advancing the Climate Smart Building Initiative,” Nicole Bulgarino, executive vice president of Federal Solutions at Ameresco, said in a news release.
Vincent, the civil engineer squadron chief, said future savings from reducing energy consumption will offset the costs of the project, over time.
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Amanda Oglesby is an Ocean County native who covers Brick, Barnegat and Lacey townships as well as the environment. She has worked for the Press for more than a decade. Reach her at @OglesbyAPP, firstname.lastname@example.org or 732-557-5701.
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