November 3, 2015 – AL.com (Alabama), By Mike Cason
The Alabama Public Service Commission today approved Alabama Power Company proposals for solar electricity production at the Anniston Army Depot and Fort Rucker.
They are the first projects under a plan the PSC approved in September, authorizing Alabama Power to offer solar, wind and other renewable energy to customers through separate, negotiated arrangements.
Alabama Power says there is growing demand for renewable energy driven by federal mandates and corporate goals.
Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman said the Anniston Army Depot and Fort Rucker projects will be the first major solar projects for the company’s customers.
Others have been for research or community partnerships, he said.
The two Army base plants are expected to produce about 10 megawatts each.
The solar panels at Redstone Energy Group’s new solar demonstration center near the corner of South Memorial Parkway and Airport Road Sunday, July 29, 2012 in Huntsville, Ala. The city has proposed a city ordinance that will permit the use of solar panels in all residential and business districts. (The Huntsville Times/Eric Schultz).
Twenty megawatts is roughly the amount of power needed to service 4,200 homes, Sznajderman said.
Total cost of the two projects will be about $48 million. Construction is expected to begin early next year and be completed before the end of the year.
In September, the PSC granted a petition from Alabama Power authorizing the utility to offer up to 500 megawatts from renewable energy through generation projects or through power purchase agreements.
The plan calls for Alabama Power to negotiate the terms of the projects and submit them to the PSC for approval. None can be for more than 80 megawatts.
Growing interest in renewable energy from large-scale customers, including the state’s military bases, prompted Alabama Power to ask the PSC for the authority to pursue the renewable projects.
A federal law passed in 2007 set a goal for the Department of Defense that 25 percent of the power it uses come from renewable resources by 2025.
Also, President Obama issued an executive order in March setting renewable energy goals for federal agencies.
Military bases in Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and the Carolinas are starting renewal energy projects because of the federal mandates, according to the PSC.
Almost half of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies have set renewable goals and mandates, according to testimony at an Aug. 12 public hearing on the Alabama Power’s request to the PSC.
Options for renewable energy are a factor in site selection for some companies, Alabama Power told the PSC at that hearing.
Projects approved under the petition granted in September are supposed to benefit all Alabama Power customers.
The company says the agreements will be negotiated so that other customers won’t subsidize any additional costs associated with renewable energy.
Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh and Commissioners Chip Beeker and Jeremy Oden approved the Anniston and Fort Rucker projects.
The three commissioners, all Republicans, have been critical of the Obama administration’s regulatory mandates.
But they said it was important to approve the projects because they could help protect jobs.
The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.