Construction began this month on a solar panel array at the Fort Custer Training Center in Augusta that will provide electricity to the entire 7,500-acre training center.
“Complete energy independence is our goal,” said Lt. Col. Mark Gorzynski, FCTC garrison commander. “We have plans for harnessing solar and wind power, and a large-scale recycling initiative that will add Fort Custer to the list of leaders in the nation for net zero energy use.”
Michigan Army National Guard energy advisor Dale Copedge said the new solar array at Fort Custer consists of 780 panels. Each panel is rated at 330 watts yielding a capacity of 257,400 kilowatts of power. The array was funded by a $750,000 grant from the National Guard Bureau, which was awarded as a design-build project through a competitive request for proposal process. L.D. Dosca Associates, Inc., a general contracting company based in Kalamazoo was awarded the contract.
The power/electricity generated by the FCTC array will be used onsite as primary power; at this time the power will not be placed on the grid. The project is the first of three renewable energy projects under development at Fort Custer. An additional 300 kW solar array system and a 210 kW wind funnel are next on the schedule.
Collectively, the renewable energy power generation projects will bring FCTC into compliance with Executive Order 13514, an order that requires federal agencies to meet several energy, water, and waste reduction targets.
The Fort Custer Training Center is federally owned and state-operated by the Michigan Army National Guard. The 7,500-acre facility was built in 1917 and was used for operations in World War I and expanded during World War II. Today, Fort Custer’s training facilities are used by the Michigan National Guard, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army Reserves, and other branches of the armed forces. Many Reserve Officer Training Corps students from colleges in the Midwest train at Fort Custer, as do members of the FBI, Michigan State Police, and county and city law enforcement agencies. The U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Command is one of the largest agencies that uses Fort Custer training resources.
Fort Custer will celebrate 100 years of training in 2017.