Assistant Secretary of the Army Installations, Energy and Environment Alex Beehler praised Fort Knox’s Energy Program last week as several installation officials sat in a Fort Knox Garrison headquarters conference room, connected in real-time to Directorate of Public Works teams across the globe through a video teleconference.
“What you all do toward energy savings and efficiency is not only helpful to the national security mission and capability readiness of the Army currently, it also helps our planet for our generation and our children’s and children’s children’s generation,” Beehler said.
Having successfully completed the biannual energy resilience readiness exercise just three hours before, the Fort Knox team joined eight other Directorate of Public Works teams to receive Army-level awards during the 2020 Secretary of the Army Energy and Water Management Awards ceremony.
Fort Knox was one of four garrisons to be honored in the Energy and Water Resilience Program Effectiveness category. The other three were Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Yongsan-Casey, Korea; and Bavaria, Germany.
Beehler recalled his 2019 Fort Knox visit, explaining a photo that depicted him sitting down with some students at Kingsolver Elementary School to listen to some of their ideas for making their futures better.
“My visit to Fort Knox around Arbor Day last year, year-and-a-half ago was a pure delight,” said Beehler. “One of the highlights was spending time with the excellent elementary school there — and listening. Notice I’m not talking, the third-grader is talking; I’m listening to words of wisdom.”
During the ceremony, Fort Knox was recognized for avoiding $2,170,000 in annual costs while saving 66,857 British thermal units of energy and generating 185,791 kilowatt hours of off-site energy. The closest competitor was U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii.
The citation, read at the ceremony, highlighted the installation’s 20-year commitment to achieving energy independence for at least 14 days, although Fort Knox officials admit they can sustain that independence for much longer.
Fort Knox Garrison Deputy Emmet Holley, who has helped guide efforts that led to every energy award over the past 20-plus years, said after the ceremony their plans for complete energy independence are maybe four or five years from being achieved. He plans to retire in a few months.
“We have the vision with fuel cells and other plans to where we can generate electricity with our own power, store it in batteries, and then when demand for it during the day rises, use it and recharge them each night,” Holley said. “It is something very feasible, and we have support for it; it’s just a matter of getting the funding.
“It’ll happen,” he added. “We just have to be patient.”
Fort Knox officials said their participation in the video teleconference would be a visible demonstration of the success of their ability to shut power off from outside the gate and run independently within 10 to 15 minutes. That fact did not go unnoticed by Beehler as he talked from his location in Washington, D.C.
“I also note that Fort Knox today is conducting another of its energy resilience exercises,” Beehler said. “Congratulations.”