MCLB-ALBANY — While other projects are on the slate at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, the focus remains on the energy-efficiency efforts that are expected to ultimately pull the installation into "net zero" status sometime next year.
MCLB-Albany officials say plans are continuing for investments in energy projects meant to benefit the community and the environment, and promote a commitment to excellence. Such projects include a solar farm, energy-efficiency upgrades to existing infrastructure and a biomass facility in collaboration with Procter & Gamble.
The latter will allow the base to fully operate on renewable energy by 2017, putting MCLB in the position of being the first zero-energy installation within the Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy — considered by MCLB officials to be "a significant national achievement and point of pride for our community."
"Being net zero means you produce just as much renewable energy as you use in a year," said MCLB-Albany Installation and Environment Division Installation Energy Manager Eddie Hunt.
It's the biggest energy-efficiency project planned for the base this year, and will be managed by Constellation upon completion. It will operate by products, such as timber remnants and peanut shells that would otherwise go to waste, being turned into energy. Pressurized steam created during the boiling process will be used by P&G in the company's production of paper products.
"It provides a lot of stability with the base and the community," said Mike Henderson, public works supervisor for the MCLB Installations and Environment Division.
The natural resources in Southwest Georgia, Hunt says, make the region a "sweet spot for biomass."
"By June, we will be able to award Constellation (with the contract) and start construction," said Ski Smigelski, deputy director for the base's Installation and Environment Division.
The contract has been two years in the making, a timeline that is not uncommon for a project like this. "It has to guarantee (energy) savings, or there won't be a project," Smigelski said.
There is also some benefit to others involved in the project.
"Constellation is working with Procter & Gamble on a 50-megawatt biomass cogeneration plant at P&G's paper manufacturing facility in Albany," said Kelly Biemer, manager of external communications for Constellation. "Constellation will own and operate the $200 million plant, which will use scrap wood to supply 100 percent steam that P&G needs to make Bounty paper towels and Charmin toilet tissue at its facility and generate electricity for the local utility, Georgia Power.
"P&G will purchase the steam generated by the system under a 20-year Steam Supply Agreement with Constellation. Georgia Power will purchase the electricity generated under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with Constellation. What's more, the incoming biomass will provide up to 70 percent of the overall energy needed by the Albany site. When it opens in 2017, the biomass plant will significantly increase P&G's use of renewable energy and move the company closer to its goal of obtaining 30 percent of its total energy from renewable sources by 2020."
A partnership with Georgia Power is in the works to install a 30-megawatt solar farm in a 150-acre corner of the base visible from Mock Road. The future site of the farm, which will have 100 fixed panels per acre facing the southwest, is now filled with trees that will be coming down — and the timber from those trees will be sold, Henderson said.
"We should have no recurring bill after 2017 from Georgia Power," he said.
The contract was awarded in December, and the "kick-off meeting" was expected to take place this month so the farm could be operating by the end of the year at no cost to the taxpayer.
The base also continues to install renewable energy system heating and air conditioning systems. Ground source heat pumps (GSHP) with Borehole Thermal Energy Storage (BTES) use the earth to store energy and transfer the heat or cold from the ground to air conditioning systems with 6-inch piping going down 200 feet.