The California National Guard hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for an energy resilience project at Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos, Aug. 11 to support the U.S. Army’s efforts to use more clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The 100-acre energy resilience project will protect the base against grid outages and power quality issues by providing backup power for the installation during emergencies. During normal operations, the project will also generate clean, renewable energy for the surrounding community.
As Southern California’s emergency response hub, JFTB provides critical mission support during federal and state emergencies, like wildfires and earthquakes.
During unforeseen power outages, the solar microgrid will generate enough energy to power the entire installation for at least 14 days, increasing mission readiness and capability.
The project, which broke ground in May 2022, is a joint effort of the Army Installations, Energy and Environment, California Military Department, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bright Canyon Energy, developer and operator of the microgrid.
“This project is a prime example of the whole government approach that makes good on the Department of Defense’s climate adaptation plan, the Army’s climate strategy and makes good on Governor Newsom’s climate adaptation strategy,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew P. Beevers, the adjutant general of the California Military Department. “Reducing climate risks and building long-term energy resilience is an absolute priority to Newsom’s administration.”
The project comprises 31 megawatts of solar-generated electricity, 40 megawatt-hours of battery energy storage, 3 megawatts of backup generators and microgrid controls.
One megawatt is enough power to supply as many as 200 homes.
“This is the first of its kind,” said Rachel Jacobson, assistant secretary of the Army Installations, Energy and Environment. “We have other microgrids that supply [critical load] power to particular areas of bases … but this is the first one that will supply power for a minimum of 14 days for the entire base.”
During normal operations, San Diego Gas and Electric will purchase energy from the microgrid and transmit it through Southern California Edison power lines.
“What makes this microgrid unique from a lot of other energy projects around the country is that we serve two very important customers,” said Jason Smith, vice president of Arizona-based Bright Canyon Energy.
Smith said that in a grid outage, the microgrid would automatically switch from exporting energy to SDG&E and inward to JFTB to sustain installation operations.
“It’ll happen seamlessly,” Smith explained, as the project requires no human commands or controls to make the switch. “Even if we lose communication with what’s going on here [at JFTB], the backup system will all kick in and keep everything moving forward.”
Jacobson said energy-resilient bases are a readiness multiplier.
“Climate change is a national security threat. … It’s real and we have to address it,” she said. “To increase the resilience of our bases, and thereby the capabilities of our forces, we must reduce our use of fossil fuels.”
As a multigenerational Californian, Mario A. Diaz, the deputy undersecretary of the Army, explained the importance of the partnership for functional base operations and how the project will support citizens during natural disasters or crises.
“As somebody who has served for 30 years in uniform, I know that opportunities to build measurable and impactful changes to our readiness are so critically important,” Diaz said. “This region not only serves as a critical location to support our state and our nation internally, it also serves as the doorstep to the Indo-Pacific region.”
Jacobson explained that the JFTB microgrid is a template that serves as a touchstone for the Army Climate Strategy goal to build a microgrid on every installation by 2035.
Beevers thanked BCE for its investment and collaboration with the U.S. Army and California Military Department to improve energy resilience and make the Cal Guard force more lethal.