Navy's call for alternative energy in Lemoore just another example of green trend

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The Pentagon's effort to go green appears to have reached the Central San Joaquin Valley.

Last month, the Navy collected alternative energy proposals for 2,900 acres near Naval Air Station Lemoore with the intent of considering "the private development of large-scale renewable energy generation facilities." The green power would fuel base operations.

The Navy is hardly alone. The private sector likewise has launched into the green energy movement with startling vigor, despite the downturn. And as we've repeated here numerous times, small government has seen the fiscal prudence of energy efficiency -- planning retrofits in municipal real estate.

Today, Google announced that it would buy 114 megawatts of wind power from NextEra Energy Resources starting July 30 for 20 years. The energy would come from turbines in Story and Hardin counties in Iowa and supply several data centers, said Thomas Claburn of

Claburn quoted Urs Hoelzle, senior vice president of operations at Google, as saying "the size of the purchase will support further investment in clean energy production."

And Wal-Mart has emerged as a leader in corporate America, extending to suppliers its efforts to make operations energy efficient. Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott said earlier this year that the company would continue to demonstrate leadership and work for change worldwide.

“It is important for all of us to understand that there are a number of issues facing the world that will profoundly affect our lives and our company,” Scott said in a statement. “I am talking to you about issues like international trade, climate change, water shortages, social and economic inequities, infrastructure and foreign oil. Wal-Mart can take a leadership role, get out in front of the future, and make a difference that is good for our business and the world.”

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is on the same page. "It's a matter of energy independence, it's a matter of our security," he said last month of the need for the Navy and Marine Corps to reduce dependence on foreign fossil fuels.

Pentagon push to go green

Energy, to the Pentagon, is a national security issue. Thus, the nation's military is embarking on an ambitious effort to go green.

Imagine fighter jets that run on biofuel. Or electric-drive ships, and bases powered by geothermal. How about solar-power water purification systems in Afghanistan and other regions.
Those are all part of an overall strategy to reduce reliance on foreign oil. "...To make us better war fighters and to get us more down the road to energy independence. We also feel the military can lead in this regard," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told The Miami Herald.

The Pentagon could become a model for civilians, businesses and local governments, including those the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization helps. The Miami Herald said the military effort could help create economies of scale that decrease the cost of renewable energy, and military adaptation of green technologies could spread to everyday life, like what happened with the Internet.

Already, solar provides 25% of the power at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, and geothermal is a major supplier of energy at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Center in Southern California, acording to Renewable Energy

The Navy also received a contract to build a geothermal plant at Fallon Naval Air Station in Nevada, and Renewable Energy says the Department of Defense is considering joint ventures to create other projects.
The Army has plans for 4,000 electric vehicles over the next three years, The Air Force plans to use renewable energy to power 25% of the energy at its bases, and by 2016 use biofuel blends for half its aviation fuel.
The Navy also has plans for a strike force run on non-fossil fuels. It already has an assault ship, the USS Makin Island, that is powered by hybrid gas and electric. It saved nearly $2 million in fuel costs in its maiden voyage last year.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a Valley-based nonprofit dedicated to improving residents' quality of life by increasing the use of and reliance on clean energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the eight-county region.

Photo of solar panels at Nellis Air Force Base by Green Tech.