MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Although moving to cleaner vehicles is a new priority in the Department of Defense, it’s business as usual here at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
More and more vehicles are being replaced by those that either run on electricity or compressed natural gas.
“We’ve actually started several years ago before it became a DoD priority,” said Clay Hargis, director, Logistics Support Division, MCLB Albany. “Roughly two and a half years ago we started to take our fleet green. There are two issues. There is a lease you have to pay on general service agency vehicles, which are the commercial vehicles. When you buy an electric vehicle, you have a one-time charge, but there is no carry on lease. There is a huge savings there. This means more money can be diverted to the warfighter. Also, because it is electric, you have decreased dependence on fossil fuels. Altogether we have replaced gas vehicles with 129 electric ones.
“Of course, ‘going green’ is not limited to general use vehicles, such as vans used for duty, buses and four-door cars. The initiative also applies to heavy moving equipment such as forklifts,” Hargis added.
According to Hargis, many of these vehicles have been replaced with those that run on compressed natural gas; however, more than 65 forklifts that are used in closed working areas such as warehouses, have been replaced by electric power forklifts.
“This is primarily so that others are not breathing in emissions in this type of working environment, he said.
“The goal, eventually, would be to move to hydrogen cell powered vehicles,” Hargis said. “Hydrogen would be the best thing because it is self sustaining. There aren’t a lot of GSA vehicles that have that kind of technology because there is an upfront cost. Also, you have to have the infrastructure to collect the hydrogen.”
Some may say that although the DoD is continuing to switch to a greener vehicle fleet, the effort is still far from making a positive impact on the environment. Even though this counter argument exists, Hargis states that’s not necessarily the case with MCLB Albany.
“One reason why many people like electric vehicles is because you can just plug them into a wall and power them up,” Hargis said. “Of course, that means somewhere along the line you are still producing green houses because the electric power plants produce these gases.”
The solution for this is to create solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations. These stations would not only grant MCLB Albany with a self-sufficient means of recharging electric vehicles, but would also eliminate the need to use green house gas producing resources to keep them charged. This initiative is still in the early stages, Hargis said.
Making the conversion to a greener vehicle fleet is not the only initiative in place to make MCLB Albany more environmentally friendly. The Landfill-Gas-To-Energy Project remains underway which will turn methane gas into electricity. Discussions are in place to create a biomass power plant, the grant for which is waiting for a decision from the Department of Energy.