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Expanding Energy, Decreasing Dependency

Marine Corp Logistics Base Albany battles toward meeting and exceeding
DOD renewable energy goals with expansion of its landfill gas-to-power
project and other developments.

In southwest Georgia’s Dougherty County, the 3,600-acre Marine Corps
Logistics Base Albany assumes the mission of rebuilding and repairing
ground combat and combat support equipment. The base embarked on another
mission in 2005 to develop opportunities for renewable energy
installations to support what it was already positioned to do. Now,
after some completed installations, the base is in the process of
boosting those efforts even further.

The renewable energy onset began when a number of mandates were
issued to increase energy production from renewable resources.
MCLB-Albany contracted with Chevron Energy Solutions to identify
renewable energy projects using a Department of Energy Savings
Performance Contract, one of the private-sector financing authorities
leveraged to meet these goals. “One of the mandates requires us to
reduce our consumption—on a MMBtu per thousand square feet (ksf)
basis—by 30 percent by 2015,” says Fred Broome, director with the
installation and environment division on the base.

Broome says the ESPC task orders and others have allowed the base
to meet and exceed that goal. Under the ESPC, Chevron identified eight
energy conservation measures (ECMs). One of the ECMs was a project with
the Fleming/Gaissert Road Dougherty County landfill across the road from
the base. “It’s a great project for us, this (methane gas) is a
resource that we would have just been flaring off and now we’re getting a
beneficial use of it,” says Scott Addison, Dougherty County solid waste

The landfill gas-to-energy (LFGE) project uses gas that was
previously vented and flared from a header pipe at the landfill. The
landfill gas extraction system includes 140 vertical wells and one
horizontal well to provide landfill gas for the project. Addison
compares the wells that are inserted with plastic pipes to straws with
holes in them. After being vacuumed through the wells, methane gas is
sent to a compression skid at the landfill site, which cleans, dries and
compresses the gas before sending it via 3 miles of pipeline to a
combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant at MCLB-Albany. Addison says the
base pays 75 cents per MMBtu for baseline quality gas, with a 2 to 5
percent increase each year and a 33 percent increase on year five. “The
first year we (Dougherty County) received about $122,000 in revenue from
the project,” he says.

The gas fuels the CHP plant’s 1.9-MW GE Jenbacher generator and a
heat recovery steam generator (HRSG), which recovers heat from the
engine stack that produces 95-pound force per square inch gauge (psig)
of steam.

Since the plant’s completion in 2011, MCLB has kept expansion
under consideration, and is now taking action. The base is capitalizing
on space set aside during initial construction by installing a second
generator with the capacity of 2.1 MW and an additional HRSG. The HRSG
produces hot water (180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit) for industrial
processes at the maintenance center on base, and the second generator
should produce enough steam to cover the center’s demand year-round. The
$4.5 million expansion, funded under the Energy Conservation
Improvement Program Headquarters Marine Corps, will essentially double
its renewable energy production capabilities by the anticipated startup
date in April 2015. “The thought was that when the first generator was
down for maintenance or outages the second generator could run and the
renewable energy would not stop,” Broome says. “The redundancy of having
two generators helps with energy security on the base.”

Energy security is a driver with renewable energy installations,
but as Broome points out, the economics have to make sense. The initial
project economics didn’t demonstrate savings on a standalone basis when
compared to terms MCLB-Albany had with utility providers. In order to
make the economics work, the project was bundled with another ECM, which
replaced and upgraded 18,500 light fixtures on the base, and added
another building to the direct digital controls system. The 20-year
contract was signed with Chevron in December 2009 for it to develop and
maintain the CHP plant, pipeline and landfill gas (LFG) processing
equipment throughout the life of the contract. The base pays Chevron
back with the energy savings gathered from the project. According to
Broome, last year the LFGE project had a total cost savings of over $1.5
million, with total energy savings of 48,030 MMBtu.

Economic viability also played a large role when determining if
the project supported expansion. The generator at the base is down 14
percent of the year on average for maintenance and routine checks. “When
we did the economic analysis for a second generator, we were able to
justify it just off of the second generator running when the other is
down,” Broome says.

The project has the potential to produce 24 to 40 percent of the
base’s load depending on the availability of LFG, and reduce energy use
and carbon emissions by 21,160 tons annually. The county landfill
currently does not produce enough LFG to run both generators full time
simultaneously, but Addison says as the landfill grows, the well field
will be expanded to new areas. Until the amount of LFG production and
amount required to fuel the generators is determined, MCLB-Albany has
several options on how to run the generators. One is running the second
generator on natural gas or a blend of natural gas and methane. The GE
Jenbacher generators allow dual fueling.

MCLB-Albany doesn’t want to stop with just this expansion.
Presently, the base has exceeded the mandated 30 percent by 2015 with a
current 41 percent reduction. However, there is also the goal of
reaching net-zero by 2020 at half of the bases in the Navy and Marine
Corps. MCLB-Albany wants to be one of the first to achieve net-zero, and
Broome believes the base is on track to reach that goal by spring of
2017, if all goes as planned. A proposed project that could bring the
base to net-zero is through a partnership with Proctor and Gamble and
Constellation Energy on a 7.5 to 10 MW biomass project. The base’s
location comes at an advantage again, with this project utilizing
property near P&G’s paper products plant near the base. Broome
anticipates contract signatures in August 2015 with production in spring
2017. “To meet the secretary of the Navy’s goal, short of shutting the
lights off, we have to have more renewables,” Broome says. “To get
there, we have to have technology that saves money—we cannot put
technology in place that does not save money to be green for green
sake—it has to be economical.”

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