The main substation at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany was replaced after the old substation suffered a massive failure and was destroyed. Among the things the base has been working recently is an overhaul of its electrical system. (Submitted Photo)
MCLB-ALBANY — In the base’s continuing efforts to meet a green energy mandate, a big part of the projects being developed at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany this year will go toward that goal.
There are, however, some things taking place apart from the energy-efficiency goal, such as a new weapons storage facility that is in the design phase. That project, valued at $17 million, is expected to break ground in fiscal year 2015.
“It is happening,” said Lt. Cmdr. Dennis Riordan, public works officer at the installation. “It won’t get pulled back.”
There is also a repair project in the works to replace the entire water system on base, which is expected to cost $21 million — and break ground this month — as well as an overhaul of the electrical system, which is expected to be completed this month.
As for the green projects, the joint MCLB/Dougherty County landfill gas-to-energy project continues to operate through a 4-mile pipeline between the base and the county’s nearby landfill for gas from the landfill to be converted into a renewable source of energy — resulting in an average savings of $1.1 million in energy costs. The project has been running off of one generator, which has been in operation for a little over two years.
Last year, plans were announced to bring in a second generator to allow for continuous operation when the other is down. That second generator is on site, but negotiations are ongoing with Chevron to operate it, Riordan said.
“It will sit next to the current one,” he said. “The maintenance center (Production Plant Albany) would be run off the generator (if we lost Georgia Power). We will finish negotiations and have it installed in the next two months.”
The 2.1-megawatt generators cost roughly $4 million a piece.
“The money that bought the second one is different from the first. It’s from the EIP (energy investment program),” Riordan said. “(The generators) give us security. The two together could run the whole maintenance center.”
Perhaps the biggest base project in the works, Riordan said, is a biomass project with Procter & Gamble to be built in 2016. If brought to fruition, the base would buy steam from across the fenceline at the company to operate a turbine generator.
“It is more paperwork than construction,” he said. “(We have to) get someone who can get money on it. The people at the highest level have said it will happen. … Legally, they can’t stop it.
“This project is viable; it will work. We just have to find someone interested.”
The project is still in the initial phases, with various officials expected to inspect it this summer while a company is sought to help operate it. If a company can be brought in on the project, that would mean a mandate to have a congressional renewable energy threshold of 20 percent could be met that year.
“It would make us net zero, which means we could sell (power) back to Georgia Power,” the lieutenant commander said. “We will know this summer whether it will go through. There are no environmental concerns, and it is not funded by the taxpayers.
“The base is saving money on electricity bills. It is all renewable energy.”
In other projects, the building that was once used by the Albany Marine Band before it was deactivated in February 2012 is being renovated at a cost of $2 million into a conference center. Construction is expected to start on that any day, Riordan said.
Meanwhile, general maintenance will continue on base, along with a renovation of the Cpl. Dustin Jerome Lee Kennel. Among other possible projects will be a complete natural gas line replacement, which is still up in the air, the public works officer said.
An $800,000 renovation to the facility that will soon house the Albany Veterans Affairs Clinic on base has recently been completed. The clinic is expected to move on base from its current location on West Broad Avenue later this year.
In addition, $5 million is being invested on ground source heat pumps at MCLB-Albany as a way to help cut electrical use. Also, there is about $1 million being put into backup generators that would help power at least two buildings on the base beginning this summer.
From an economic development standpoint, such projects have the potential to bring money into the area. While they might not initially go to an area contractor, nearby contractors might likely serve as subcontractors.
“It brings in a lot of jobs and a lot of money,” Riordan said.
Apart from making the base more energy efficient, the upcoming developments help MCLB better meet its mission by making the work environment safer and more reliable, while at the same time allowing the base to continue to provide an economic benefit to the community.
“We are hit by lightning a lot, and it takes down the system when that happens. We will have the backup generators if the turbine project fails,” Riordan said. “The weapons storage provides maintenance and storage, and (we can have) a power and heat source that keeps LOGCOM (Marine Corps Logistics Command) running.
“(The green projects) are more dependable, safer and cost less. This is a good place to start projects like this. We don’t have an encroachment, and there are no endangered species on the base.”