U.S. Army Improves Resilience at Fort Cavazos with New Microgrid

March 14, 2024
U.S. Army Garrison-Fort Cavazos, formerly known as Fort Hood, will use the microgrid to power critical services and infrastructure during outages and to reduce energy costs during ERCOT peak demand periods.

U.S. Army Garrison-Fort Cavazos, in conjunction with the city of Temple, Texas, and Dominion Energy, has launched a new intelligent sustainability and restoration microgrid at Fort Cavazos in Texas.

Fort Cavazos, formerly known as Fort Hood, is located near Temple, between Austin and Waco. The Army’s primary installation for the training and deployment of heavy forces, the garrison is home to the 1st Cavalry Division and the III Armored Corps, among others. At 340 square miles, it’s also one of the largest U.S. military bases in the world.

Maintaining readiness

The microgrid and the resilience it provides will be key to maintaining the readiness of Fort Cavazos, according to Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, III Armored Corps and Fort Cavazos commander.

The microgrid can island, or disconnect from the electric grid during an outage, providing a minimum of 14 days of operational capability for 43 different facilities in the western part of Fort Cavazos. Among the facilities that can be powered by the microgrid are the barracks, the dining facility and services that care for military personnel and their families. 

The microgrid will also power critical infrastructure like the air traffic control tower at the garrison’s Robert Gray Army Airfield, according to Bernabe. The resilience “would allow us to land C-17s in a crisis and put combat power on that aircraft and fly it somewhere around the world to do our nation’s bidding.”

Mark Vick, air traffic control chief of the Directorate of Aviation Operations at Fort Cavazos, added that the microgrid will have “an everlasting impact on the air traffic control mission here at Fort Cavazos” because military and civilian aircraft within 60 nautical miles of the tower will benefit from its reliability.

“The power redundancy will ensure air traffic control facility operations continue their missions without interruptions and ensure aircraft operations are conducted safely at Robert Gray Army Airfield, Killeen Regional Airport and seven additional military and civilian [facilities] encompassing 11 counties in Central Texas,” Vick said.

Lowering energy costs

The microgrid was built in response to the massive power outages brought on by Winter Storm Uri in February 2021. While millions in Texas lost power for days, Fort Cavazos (Fort Hood at the time) was able to keep the lights on – but paid a steep price to do so.

According to reports, the base’s February 2021 electric bill was nearly $30 million – about what the base paid for the entire 2020 fiscal year.

Texas has a deregulated, competitive market where prices fluctuate based on demand – the higher the demand, the higher the price. Prices skyrocketed during Uri when demand spiked at the same time that ERCOT saw more than 52 GW of grid capacity go offline because of the storm’s prolonged freezing temperatures. 

Late last year, Texas voters approved a $10 billion energy resiliency funding package that included about $1.8 billion for microgrid development. The state is a national leader in microgrid deployment.

The microgrid will help to mitigate these demand costs in the future. During peak demand periods the base can rely on the microgrid for much of its power. As a result, it’s expected that the microgrid will save Fort Cavazos more than $125,000 per day in avoided peak demand charges.

Fort Cavazos, the city of Temple and Dominion Energy won a $5 million Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant (DEAAG) to fund the microgrid. Projects that add value or contribute to military installations are eligible for DEAAGs, according to Keith Graf, executive director of the Texas Military Preparedness Commission.

About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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