Military will build biggest solar installation in Northeast

A combined U.S. military base has broken ground on its latest solar-energy project, pushing forth its 2011 commitment to energy security through solar power.

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL), the collaborative home to Army, Air Force and Naval support teams commonly known as Fort Dix, will eventually be home to a 16.5 MW solar farm located on a former Superfund site. The base broke ground on the project Tuesday. When completed, the military says the site will be the largest installation in the Northeast.

The military’s commitment to solar energy in the service of enhanced land use and long-term energy security began in 2011. At the time, each branch of the service outlined ambitious renewable energy targets that will drive 3 GW of renewable energy installations by 2025.

According to Federal Statute Title 10 USC 2911, the military must acquire 25 percent of total military-facility energy consumption to come from renewable energy sources. As it has done on other issues in its history, the military’s leadership in renewable energy has set an example for other solar market segments to follow.

The Fort Dix project was developed by an affiliate of Starwood Energy Group of Greenwich, Conn., and an affiliate of Energy Management (“EMI”) of Boston. True Green Capital owns the project under a 40-year lease and will be located on a capped landfill near the base in New Jersey.

““This project demonstrates the innovative pathways our Airmen and civilians are taking to strengthen mission assurance through energy assurance,” said Miranda A.A. Ballentine, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Installations, Environment and Energy. The revenue generated by this solar project will provide critical funds dedicated to JB MDL’s energy assurance plan.”

Comprised of approximately 50,844 solar panels, the project will produce 21,315 megawatt-hours of renewable energy every year, enough to power over 2,500 homes. Estimates suggest the project will reduce CO2 emissions by 15,000 metric tons, which is the equivalent of taking 3,000 cars off the road.