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MCLB reaches net zero electricity status — first U.S. base to do

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Published: May. 24, 2022 at 6:04 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) in Albany announced its net zero status on Tuesday. They are the first defense base in America to produce 100% of the energy that they use.

MCLB started the project to become net zero in 2005. This is now a goal for all defense bases across the country.

Gen. David Berger works in the Pentagon as a commandant. He said this accomplishment is setting the standard across the country.

“The things that worked for them well, the things they tried and it didn’t work so well. That will be shared across all instillations,” Berger said.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Meredith Berger agreed.

“Energy resilience, like the example that we see here today, will be a primary example of how we move forward,” she said.

She announced the Climate Action Plan for the Navy and Marines at the event. Net zero was just the first step in a wider plan to be eco-friendly and independent.

MCLB officials said with the base’s net zero status, they are saving $10 million and 95,503 gallons of water per year. This was accomplished in part by adding 62,585 pieces of equipment, including two landfill generators, and by improving 790 existing buildings.

It took MCLB more than a decade to reach net zero status.
It took MCLB more than a decade to reach net zero status.(WALB)

The final project was an 8.5 MW steam turbine generator. It burns wood chips and other biomass. It was built in collaboration with Georgia Power and Proctor & Gamble.

“This is where our combat power comes from,” Gen. Berger said.

Eddie Hunt was one of the leaders of MCLB’s effort to become net zero. He wouldn’t retire until net zero was reached. Unfortunately, he was not able to attend the event as he passed away in March last year. Lisa Hunt, his wife, was able to attend.

“He probably dreamed about it. The night before he passed, he was working on it up until 10 p.m. I wasn’t sure of the status of the project after he passed, but I’m happy they saw it through,” she said.

For the base, the project solves a security issue. The logistics base realized the impact this project could have after two recent disasters — the January 2017 storms and Hurricane Michael.

“After those two instances, we also started asking since as we are going to a digital age, data driven warfare. How do we shelter this base and isolate this base and keep energy flowing to safeguard against cyber attacks?” Col. Michael Fitzgerald, MCLB commanding officer, said.

For civilians, the project helps the community grid keep up with our daily needs

“We’re not relying on Georgia Power. Draining on Georgia Power. This ultimately saves the taxpayer money,” Fitzgerald said.

MCLB has its eyes on the future. They have another $22.5 million energy and security project planned.

The next step for is to keep up with new federal mandates issued in December 2021. It requires 1005 carbon pollution free electricity production by 2030. It also includes 100% zero emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035 and 100% zero emission light duty acquisitions by 2027.

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