FORT DRUM -- Military officials are hailing their official connection to the on-post ReEnergy biomass plant as making them energy independent.
The post directly connected its substation to the renewable plant on Oct. 10. From last November to that point, the plant supplied power indirectly to the post using National Grid infrastructure.
"We're the only post in the Army that's self-reliant for energy right now," Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister, the 10th Mountain Division's commander, said during a media round-table on post Thursday.
He noted the plant was one area in which the post relied on the community to be more cost-efficient.
The direct connection work, ensuring that all power systems interacted correctly, was estimated to cost about $12 million. ReEnergy CEO Larry D. Richardson said the project was a complex effort that required coordination among the Army, the post, National Grid and its own engineers.
"This is not a typical project that's done every day," Mr. Richardson said.
He said the direct connection from the plant to the post's substation was a milestone for the company.
Last October, the military signed a 20-year, $288,918,210 contract with ReEnergy, the largest such deal in Army history.
The contract followed more than two years of efforts by the Latham-based company, which took over the former coal-fired plant in March 2012. The company then spent about $34 million converting it to one that can burn wood products and forestry residues that otherwise would go unused, pairing with local loggers for materials.
The Army's interest in renewable energy stemmed from the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, which called for a quarter of the Department of Defense's energy to come from renewable sources.
The service then made a separate goal of supplying one gigawatt, or 1,000 megawatts, of renewable energy by 2025.
The Army will keep its ties to National Grid as a backup in case of an outage at the biomass facility.