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Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

MCAS Miramar takes steps toward energy independence

By PFC. Liah Kitchen | Marine Corps Air Station Miramar | October 25, 2016

In 2012, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, began taking steps toward energy independence by planning to install a microgrid aboard the installation.

A microgrid is a small-scale power grid that can operate both independently and in conjunction with the main electrical grid.

“With the installation of the microgrid, we have the potential to reduce or limit our dependency on the San Diego power grid,” said Col. Jason Woodworth, commanding officer of MCAS Miramar.

The Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, set an energy goal in 2010 saying that 50 percent of military installations need to be powered by renewable energy by 2020.

Six years later and far ahead of schedule, MCAS Miramar has reached that goal. Mick Wasco, installation energy manager for MCAS Miramar, his team and installation officials are working to surpass it, creating a more environmentally friendly and energy efficient future.

MCAS Miramar uses energy collected from solar panels throughout the base and a landfill to power its microgrid.

According to Woodworth, if the entire base loses power, the microgrid has the capability of keeping the flight line operational to support mission requirements.

“In the event of a grid outage, the military capabilities of operational forces aboard MCAS Miramar will remain intact,” said Michael McConnell, utilities planner for Marine Corps Installations West. “This will allow the air element of our nation's defenses to be utilized at full strength.”

According to Wasco, MCAS Miramar has the potential to have one of the most renewable and diverse microgrids in the Marine Corps, which ultimately will make MCAS Miramar better neighbors to the San Diego community.

“The San Diego region usually sees its highest electric usage in the summer when local residents are using a lot of air conditioning,” said McConnell. “During times like this, MCAS Miramar will be able to largely support its own electric needs and, therefore, lighten the burden on the already stressed out power grid.”

According to McConnell, the microgrid project has gained approval and support from the highest levels of the Marine Corps, Navy and Congress.

The microgrid is currently in the design phase and is slated for completion in 2019.