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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

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Green engineering to benefit base

By Pamela Jackson | | February 3, 2011

Editor’s note: This is the fourth article of an eight-part series on Inside Installation and Environment Division.

Nearing completion, the landfill gas-to-energy project at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany is the first of its kind in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. A groundbreaking ceremony was held May 20, 2010, and now base officials are excited about what a partnership of this magnitude will mean for everyone, once finished.

Charles Phelps, electrical engineer, Public Works, Installation and Environment Division, MCLB Albany, is responsible for all electrical systems on base from the time it arrives or is built, when it goes through high voltage areas and is redistributed back throughout the base.

“Electricity is a vital component to everything we do here and electrical systems are integrated into our daily lives. It affects everything from ammunition storage to vehicle repairs, and if it does not work properly or goes down for some reason, it affects the warfighter down range on the battle field,” Phelps said. “If we don’t have power, personnel cannot use computer systems or repair equipment that is needed.” Phelps said there are several facets of his job that include new construction, where he ensures that new buildings are up to proper codes and regulations, and renovations where older facilities are brought up to the new codes.

“My most exciting project so far is the landfill gas project, which is a new mission for the base. It’s an engineer’s dream to have something like this here. The whole concept of going green will create a new zero energy footprints for the base. It’s a very exciting time from an electrical engineering standpoint,” Phelps said.

According to base officials, the landfill gas-to-energy project is a partnership between Chevron Energy Solutions, Dougherty County and the Marine Corps. It will cost $14 million to implement, but will save the base $1,150,790 annually in utility operations. Phelps said the way the technology will work is to capture the methane gas from the landfill, pipe it here on base and run it through an engine generator set that will convert it to electrical energy, 1.9 megawatts, and excess heat will convert water to steam for MCA consumption.

“We are extremely excited about the progress of our landfill gas project. Chevron Energy Solutions has done a great job and once it is up and operating, it will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help increase our energy security posture, and help us achieve presidential and congressional energy reduction mandates,” said Col. Terry V. Williams, commanding officer, MCLB Albany. “The fact we are partnering with Dougherty County makes it that much more exciting.”

Phelps said the largest beneficiary of this new technology will be Maintenance Center Albany.

“It’s a big feather in everyone’s hat. This renewable energy project will be around for a long time,” he said. “With this new green initiative and all the new emerging technologies, this will help the base commanding officer reach his goal to become the greenest base in the Marine Corps, not just in the U.S., but throughout the world.” Eddie Hunt, energy manager, I&E, said the project is going well and it is on schedule to be completed by mid-March, allowing time for testing and ready to be fully operational by May 2011.

“This is a 20-year contract and the greatest part is that its renewable energy that will eventually pay for itself,” Hunt said. “When the price of oil goes up, it costs everyone. If the military can get off fossil fuels, it will make us more secure and less dependent.”

Hunt said with the landfill gas-to-energy project, if there is a power failure due to a storm or other reason, MCA can still run the production lines and repair equipment, both large and small.

This project will have the capacity to power nearly one-third of the base, if needed.

“A project like this is not only good for the Marine Corps, but the community as well. Working with Dougherty County is a great partnership and once completed, the base will exceed its federally mandated goals for reducing energy consumption,” he said. “It’s a win-win because we will be generating and using the energy we produce here on the installation, saving the government thousands of dollars over time.”