More than 200 households at Fort Detrick will be partially solar-powered by the end of the year.The solar panels, installed by SolarCity, should be operational by the end of the month, according to Owen York, a project manager at the solar energy company.The panels sit atop the roofs of 203 multi-family and single-family housing units, plus a community center for those residents.The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that the average Maryland home consumes about 1 megawatt-hour, or 1 megawatt consistently generated over an hour, per month.
Once the panels are hooked up to the grid, the energy they generate will cover anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent of each household’s energy needs.“It’s very dependent on how each resident uses energy,” said Robert Kelly, a senior project developer at SolarCity.The company also installed solar panels for 240 housing units and a community center in Silver Spring at Fort Detrick’s Forest Glen Annex.The housing units are managed by Balfour Beatty Communities, a Pennsylvania-based company that specializes in multi-family housing, including student and military housing.
The panels on the main post at Fort Detrick are expected to generate about 1.1 megawatts, and the panels at Forest Glen will generate about 0.6 megawatts of energy.This kind of project — installing solar panels on military housing — is different than the typical single-family home installation in a residential neighborhood, Kelly said.“It offers a really unique opportunity for SolarCity to understand what a future utility grid might look like,” Kelly said.
SolarCity doesn’t have any future projects planned for Fort Detrick’s housing, he said.
“We picked all the best homes in that housing community to install solar on, and it would be limited on other potential roofs,” he said.Fort Detrick is a pilot installation for the Army’s Net Zero Energy initiative. Under this strategy, the Army aims to generate as much energy as it consumes, by reducing energy usage and implementing renewable energy.The solar panels are not Fort Detrick’s first. The installation has a solar field covering about 67 acres at Area B, Fort Detrick’s property off Montevue Lane.Those panels were built by Ameresco, which holds a 26-year power purchase agreement with the Army garrison. Officials cut the ribbon on the Area B solar field back in June.