Ameresco, an energy efficiency and renewable energy company with offices in Columbia, joined U.S. Army leadership and federal, state and local officials for a ribbon cutting celebration to mark the completion of the large-scale, 18.6 megawatt (MW) direct current (15.0 MW alternating current) renewable energy solar facility located at the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick installation in Frederick.

Fort Detrick Garrison Commander Col. Robert O’Brien, along with representatives of the headquarters of the Department of the Army, Congress, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Army Office of Energy Initiatives, the Defense Logistics Agency Energy and Ameresco participated in the event.

The large-scale solar project, now operational, is composed of 59,994 solar panels installed across 67 acres of land throughout Area B at Fort Detrick. The facility is one of the single-largest in the mid-Atlantic, as well as in Maryland. The project is designed to serve about 12% of Fort Detrick’s annual electric load requirements. Fort Detrick will consume all electricity supplied by the facility.

“This project is an excellent example of the extraordinary results we can achieve through collaboration,” said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment. “Renewable energy produced on Army installations increases energy security, which is essential to mission effectiveness.”

The Ameresco office in Columbia designed, built, owns, operates and will maintain the large-scale solar facility, and Fort Detrick will purchase the renewable electricity from Ameresco through a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Fort Detrick will have the economic benefit of purchasing the renewable electricity below current and projected utility rates.

The electricity to be generated by the facility is the equivalent of powering 2,720 homes per year, and it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19,000 metric tons annually.

Fort Detrick is a pilot net-zero installation with a goal of being net-zero energy by 2020. The new Ameresco solar facility is designed to be micro-grid compatible and will support the base in meeting its energy and sustainability goals.