Providing resilient energy to Fort Carson and developing infrastructure to support the mission
For this year’s Infrastructure Week, May 13-20, we are sharing insight from our leaders and employees that examine how the infrastructure choices we make today will shape our future. Follow the conversation on our blog and on social media as we #BuildForTomorrow.
The U.S. Department of Defense views improving energy security and resilience as one of its formative challenges of the 21st Century. To meet that challenge, military bases are exploring new technologies and using all available acquisition authorities. They are partnering with surrounding communities, their serving utilities, and energy industry experts to build facilities that require less energy and that can restore power quickly after disruptions. Every idea is being explored.
With our partners – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Colorado Springs Utilities, Lockheed Martin, Geli, and Main Electric – we worked with Fort Carson to install an 8.5-megawatt-hour battery energy storage system (BESS) that’s designed to save the installation roughly 10 percent on annual demand charges and facilitate energy resilience enhancements. It consists of thousands of lithium storage cells, organized into modules and racks, and is controlled by a highly sophisticated predictive control system. Fort Carson’s leadership throughout the project was crucial to overcoming obstacles and unifying stakeholders.
The new BESS combats the high cost of electricity use during peak demand periods. By reducing energy demand placed on Fort Carson’s power grid—especially during the summer cooling season—the BESS increases grid resiliency. Typically, the BESS charges overnight, when energy costs are lower, and discharges during the late afternoon, when Fort Carson experiences its maximum electrical demand. Since the majority of Fort Carson’s energy bill is based on maximum demand, this action by the BESS directly reduces Fort Carson’s utility bill.
When fully charged, the BESS holds enough energy to power around 3,400 homes and it stores about the same amount of energy as a million iPhones. It is 25 percent more powerful than the newest freight locomotive and can execute a control signal 10 times faster than a hummingbird’s wing beat. Construction of the BESS required 2,865 tons of imported structural fill, 118 yards of concrete, and 8.4 tons of concrete reinforcement steel (rebar).
With the addition of this innovative energy asset, Fort Carson has enhanced its reputation as one of the most forward-thinking and capable energy managers in the U.S. Army.
“The system will reduce our billed peak electric use by an average of nine percent every month,” said Directorate of Public Works Utility Program Manager Vince Guthrie, “The reduction will save Fort Carson approximately $525,000 a year.”
Building this battery project supports the Army’s focus on energy resiliency. This project, with its technology and cost savings, could become a model for cities facing an uncertain energy future.
A “switch-throwing” ceremony for the BESS was held on Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at Minick Substation at Fort Carson, Colorado. This time-lapse video condenses 60 days of construction and only hints at the complexity of the undertaking.