Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Fort Carson Mountaineer

Carson leads charge: Cutting-edge system complete

By Susan C. Galentine

Directorate of Public Works sustainability specialist

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Fort Carson hosted a ceremonial “switch throwing” event Jan. 9, 2019, for the completion of a cutting-edge battery energy storage system designed to combat the high cost of peak electricity use periods.

The ceremony, hosted by U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson, Commander Col. Brian K. Wortinger, at the utility substation site, drew more than 70 guests including government partners, Colorado Springs Utilities, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, community stakeholders, and private sector contractors involved in the battery project.

Although there are existing energy storage systems at military bases, the Fort Carson unit installed in November is the largest peak-shaving battery on a DOD installation, according to Mike Belles, AECOM’s senior project manager for the work.

The 8.5 megawatt-per-hour battery system is comprised of thousands of small cells inside more than a dozen, 5-by-12-foot containers. The battery will offset the high energy demands placed on Fort Carson’s power grid, especially during summer cooling season, ultimately increasing power grid resilience.

“Using less of anything when demand is high and/or there is a shortage is the first step to becoming more resilient,” said Vince Guthrie, utility program manager, Directorate of Public Works.

When Fort Carson is paying the highest rate each month for peak electric use as a large-scale consumer, the system discharges electricity and during periods where there is less electricity demand, and the post pays a lower rate for its electricity, the battery recharges.

“The system will reduce our billed peak electric use (by) an average of 9 percent every month, which will save Fort Carson approximately $525,000 a year,” explained Guthrie.

Because the project is guaranteed to pay for itself over time, Fort Carson was able to leverage an existing Energy Savings Performance Contract with engineering firm AECOM to finance, design and construct the $8 million battery system.

Pursuing the battery energy storage system project aligns with the Army’s increased focus on energy resiliency.

“The Army needs resilient energy at Fort Carson and other Army installations,” said Guthrie. “If we lose power it impacts our capability to adequately train and equip Soldiers and deploy Army power where it’s needed.”

Carson leads charge: Cutting-edge system complete
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