Alabama Power, Army break ground on Fort Rucker solar project

Alabama Power, Army break ground on Fort Rucker solar project
Officials from Alabama Power, the Army and other federal agencies gather at Fort Rucker on Thursday, June 2, 2016, to break ground on the company’s second, large-scale solar energy project. (Mike Kittrell/Alabama NewsCenter)

Officials from Alabama Power, the Army and other federal agencies gathered at Fort Rucker today to break ground on the company’s second, large-scale solar energy project.

The 10-megawatt project, to be located on about 90 acres of land at the fort, is scheduled to be operational later this year. The photovoltaic solar generating plant is expected to generate enough energy to power about 1,600 homes annually.

Russel Hall, deputy to the commanding general at Fort Rucker, told the gathering he was pleased to be working with Alabama Power on the project, which is creating between 60 and 80 temporary construction jobs.

“Increasing our energy choices is important to Fort Rucker,” Hall said.

Zeke Smith, Alabama Power executive vice president for External Affairs, noted the long and strong relationship between the company and the Army facility. He also recognized Fort Rucker’s importance to the community and to the economy of Southeast Alabama.

Michael McGhee, executive director of the Army Office of Energy Initiatives, thanked all the organizations that came together around the project.

“There isn’t a place I’d rather be today than here at Fort Rucker,” McGhee said.

The Fort Rucker project is the second, major solar facility to break ground on an Army base in the state. Earlier this year, construction began on a 10-megawatt facility at the Anniston Army Depot. The Anniston project will also be owned by Alabama Power.

The energy generated by the Fort Rucker project will flow back into the Alabama Power grid as part of the company’s generation portfolio. Alabama Power retains the rights to the energy and the renewable energy credits (RECs) from the project to serve its customers with renewable energy. Or the company can sell the energy and the RECs, together or separately, to third parties for the benefit of customers.

The projects at Fort Rucker and Anniston Army Depot provide benefits to all Alabama Power customers because of long-term power contracts between the company and the two military installations. Both Army facilities will continue to purchase electricity from Alabama Power under separate and existing electric service agreements.

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