Military in Hawaii has big plans for solar power at base
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
The military is seeking contractors to install more solar power systems at most of its major installations in the state in what ultimately would be a leap in photovoltaic power generation capability in Hawai'i, officials said.
Ted Peck, the state's energy administrator, predicts the military photovoltaic energy project output may reach about 60 megawatts — four times the state's solar production last year.
Even at the 15- to 16-megawatt production capacity last year, Hawai'i was third in the nation for solar power on a per capita basis, he said.
"So what the (Defense Department) is going to do will knock us out of the park," Peck said. "We are really driving hard toward huge amounts of solar in our state. It's just going to be phenomenal ."
Hawai'i gets about 90 percent of its energy from oil. O'ahu's peak power usage is about 1,200 megawatts at any given time, officials said. The military uses about 15 percent of that power.
A federal notice went out yesterday calling for information on businesses that would be able to meet the military's solar power requirements at most major installations on O'ahu and Kaua'i.
Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific is acting as the procurement agent for a host of renewable energy projects for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines in Hawai'i as the Pentagon strives to reduce its dependence on foreign oil.
The Navy command, based at Pearl Harbor, said it is "interested in the prospect of a third-party entity financing, developing, constructing, owning, operating and maintaining the solar renewable energy generation system, or systems."
Peck said the solar contracts would be "a lot of revenue for the state."
The Navy said the notice published yesterday is not a solicitation for proposals. Don Rochon, a spokesman for Naval Facilities, said the intent is to gauge business interest as well as financial capability to undertake the projects.
The Navy is seeking small businesses that are engaged in the generation, transmission and/or distribution of power. Total electric output for the preceding fiscal year cannot have exceeded 4 million megawatt hours, according to the notice.
Rochon said procurement information sensitivity prevented him from talking about the potential dollar amount of the solar projects, as well as when the Navy will formally request proposals.
U.S. Pacific Command headquartered at Camp Smith joined with the state in pursuing renewable energy goals. The command's strategy calls for it to at least meet the Hawai'i Clean Energy Initiative target of getting 70 percent of energy from renewable sources by the year 2030.
The Navy in late 2008 said it was acting as the procurement agent for a large-scale renewable energy drive in Hawai'i by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
Photovoltaic, biofuel, wind, thermal, wave and hydrogen power were being considered. Officials said a formal request for proposals for the projects was expected to go out by late 2009, but that did not occur.
The Navy now says procurement sensitivities prevent it from discussing where the renewable energy effort stands.
As part of that plan, the Marine Corps in 2008 said it wanted to wrap a multi-megawatt solar array around the radar-topped Kansas Tower Hill at Käne'ohe Bay, and build a biofuel plant.
The two projects would more than cover the base's 13- to 20-megawatt power needs, officials said then.