Massive Military Solar Project Commences in Hawaii
Construction has started on the first phase of a massive solar project by Forest City Military Communities and SolarCity® to provide solar electricity to 6,500 military family residences at Ohana Military Communities (OMC), which serves Navy Region Hawaii and Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The latest SolarStrong™ project is scoped for a planned 24 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity, which would make it the largest SolarCity has undertaken to date. SolarCity and Forest City have finished installing the first 700 kilowatts of solar capacity at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and will soon initiate the first installations on Navy Region Hawaii. Representatives from Forest City and SolarCity will join in a traditional Hawaiian blessing today to celebrate the initiation of the project. SolarStrong, SolarCity’s five-year plan to build more than $1 billion in solar energy projects for U.S. military housing communities, is expected to create up to 300 MW of solar generation capacity that could provide energy to as many as 120,000 military housing units.
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Primarily financed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the new project at Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Navy Region Hawaii is expected to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on the imported oil it uses to produce the majority of its electricity. The projects will help the state make a significant advance toward its ambitious Clean Energy Initiative goal to use 70% clean energy, including 40% renewable energy, by 2030. The project will also help the Department of Defense, currently the largest energy consumer in the United States, make additional progress toward its goal to have 25% of its energy requirements met by renewable energy by 2025.
Forest City is a leading developer and manager of distinctive and diversified real estate projects, with properties in 26 states and the District of Columbia. The company currently manages military family housing units in eight states from Hawaii to South Carolina for the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force under the Armed Forces’ Public-Private Venture (PPV) Privatized Family Housing program.
“Our partnership with SolarCity on this renewable energy initiative is a strong positive for the military and for the environment. Sustainability is a corporate core value at Forest City,” said Thomas Henneberry, president of Forest City Military Communities. “This is our first involvement with the SolarStrong project and we’re hopeful to find opportunities to expand it to other portions of our portfolio.”
"Top Navy leaders support these initiatives because we are stronger, safer and less vulnerable when we embrace renewable energy and support sustainability -- in all of our communities,” said Rear Admiral Frank Ponds, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii. “We need to diversify our energy resources, and we need to build strong partnerships. For example, through the joint energy security initiative here in Hawaii we have a strong commitment to solar energy as well as other promising alternative and renewable energy sources and solutions. We are moving forward together at every opportunity to promote sustainability and security. This is the right thing to do for the Navy, for Hawaii and for the nation -- not only now, but also for generations to come."
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"This project not only benefits our military ohana, it reduces our energy costs which directly affect how our tax payer's dollar is spent. Additionally, it reduces our reliance on foreign oil, and helps contribute to Hawaii's goal to generate 40% clean energy from locally generated renewables by 2030," said Col. Brian Annichiarico, commanding officer, Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
“Project by project, our SolarStrong initiative is assisting the Department of Defense’s impressive effort to change the way our nation’s military consumes energy,” said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. “The road to the Department’s goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025 is being paved, in part, with solar panels by sustainable developers such as Forest City.”
“We are pleased to be able to help finance the most recent and largest planned SolarStrong project so far,” said Jonathan Plowe, head of New Energy & Infrastructure Solutions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Bank of America Merrill Lynch remains a leader in financing solar power, and is proud to work with SolarCity, Forest City and the U.S. military to promote the use of clean, renewable energy and create jobs for Americans, including veterans and military family members.”
Read more in Energy Digital: The Military Issue
In addition to SolarStrong, SolarCity is pursuing a veteran hiring initiative as part of its Workforce Development program. The company has hired more than 100 veterans this year in various positions within the company including IT, sales, managerial, administration, design and installation. The company has collaborated on hiring processes by partnering with several veteran programs across the country, including Veteran Affairs national offices, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s ‘100,000 Jobs Mission,’ Swords to Plowshares, The California National Guard, The California Conservation Corps and Veterans Green Jobs.
In addition to the Navy Region Hawaii and Marine Corps Base Hawaii projects announced today, there are additional SolarStrong projects underway at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range in Texas, Hickam Community Housing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Los Angeles Air Force Base, and Peterson and Schriever Air Force Bases in Colorado. Each project was financed in part by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.