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Navy may add power plants at Bangor, Bremerton

Kitsap Sun

BREMERTON – The Navy is seeking developers to build power plants within its installations at Bangor and Bremerton, offering to lease the land in exchange for robust electricity backup when widespread outages occur.

Up to 95 acres at Bangor and 10 at Bremerton could be leased under the proposal. The Navy, which bases 13 nuclear-powered submarines and 2 aircraft carriers here, says it will consider renewable sources, like solar and wind power, as well as non-renewable energy sources such as natural gas.

"Where we benefit is in the energy security and resiliency," said Capt. Ben Miller, Naval Facilities Engineering Command's Northwest Commanding Officer.

Proposals are due Aug. 18 and the Navy hopes to pick developers by July 2021, with projects completed in 2024.

The project's developer could feed power to the existing power grid in Kitsap County during times the Navy does not need it. But "wheeling" to the existing grid would require permission to its owners – the Bonneville Power Administration, which maintains the backbone transmission lines, and to Puget Sound Energy, the utility in charge of all other electricity infrastructure.

Puget Sound Energy is reviewing the project. The utility also requires a process for any power producer to both connect to its power lines as well as sell power to them, according to Jarrett Tomalin, a spokesperson.

If the plants were to generate emissions, there would likely be a thicket of regulatory hurdles to clear as well. A preconstruction air permit would be required by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, according to Steve Van Slyke, its compliance director.

Multiple vendors could be selected to build an operate the plants at the two locations, the Navy said. The Navy did not specify a minimum output requirement in documents for potential contractors to review.

At Bangor, the Navy has disclosed two potential sites: one, at about 23 acres, would include forested land on both sides of Luzon Avenue near its intersection with Trigger Avenue. The property lies adjacent to an existing power substation.

The second, a much larger site, sits on 72 acres at the south end of the base, on forested land northeast of the corner of Southern Boundary Road and Nautilus Avenue.

At Bremerton, the 10 acres offered for lease are all existing surface parking lots: the first, at five acres, is south of First Street and borders Kitsap Transit's bus barn to its west; the second, two acres, is sandwiched between a parking garage to its east and the Farragut Gate to the west; and third, a three-acre site adjacent to the shipyard steam plant on its west side, and south of Farragut Avenue. Two existing electrical substations are located near the three properties.

In planning documents, the Navy says it will continue operating the shipyard steam plant, which runs on natural gas.

How a land-for-power swap works

The Navy is pursuing power plants under a distinctive Department of Defense process known as the "Enhanced Use Lease." Instead of using the military's budget, the installation can lease its land to a developer to fund their own project with the objective to benefit both. Around the country, the process has been used to not only create new electricity but develop commercial real estate.

For example, the Navy inked a 40-year EUL at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in 2004 to construct a new administration building. A developer built the Moanalua Shopping Center, fulfilling that mission but with it space for some 30 retailers. The property value increased and the Navy still pays no rent for the administration building.

A closer comparison to the Navy's new effort here is at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. The Air Force leased about 100 acres to Arizona Public Service, the state's largest power utility, to install photovoltaic solar panels. The plant can generate about 10 megawatts at a base that needed 70 in 2015, according to the Arizona Republic.

Naval officials have called the proposal here a priority. John Kliem, the Navy engineering command's real estate office executive director, said that "flat military funding is no longer an excuse for the growing backlog of critical unfunded installation military requirements."

Josh Farley is a reporter covering the military for the Kitsap Sun. He can be reached at 360-792-9227, or on Twitter at @joshfarley.


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