TOOELE ARMY DEPOT, Utah (Aug. 18, 2012) -- Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, toured Tooele Army Depot, broke ground on the $9.6 million solar power renewable energy project, and talked with media Aug. 17.

Tooele Army Depot, located approximately 40 minutes west of Salt Lake City, Utah, provides storage, inspection, maintenance and testing of training stocks as well as war reserve ammunition. The depot also designs, develops, manufactures and fields specialized equipment used in the maintenance and demilitarization of munitions all over the world. One of five wholesale ammunition and missile storage and distribution sites in the Defense Department, Tooele Army Depot serves as the primary western distribution hub for conventional ammunition, supplying all military services in the region.

The Sterling solar power renewable energy construction project awarded to the Infinia Corp., will consist of 430 dishes on a 15 acre site on the depot. The energy it will generate could power the equivalent of 300-400 homes, and when complete, will produce 30 percent of the depot's electricity.

According to Tooele Army Depot Commander Col. Christopher Mohan, over the course of a year, the value of electricity produced by the solar array will equal nearly $260,000.

"This is a glimpse of the future," Dempsey said. "Public and private partnerships, industry, academia and government must work together -- the days when we, the U.S. military, could figure it out ourselves are long behind us."

Hammack noted that in April, the White House announced the Department of Defense was making one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history, by developing a goal to deploy three gigawatts of renewable energy on Army, Navy, and Air Force installations by 2025. This will supply enough energy to power 750,000 homes. These goals support the broader Department of Defense goal to enhance installation energy security and reduce installation energy costs. The Army's goal is one gigawatt, one third of the Defense Department's goal.

"Installations are encouraged to achieve "net zero" status, producing as much energy as they consume," Hammack said. "Tooele is making strides in achieving those goals."

Mohan echoed their sentiments.

"Our ability to get ammunition to the warfighter is the only reason we're here," Mohan said, referring to the depot's purpose. "Developing alternative energy sources allows us to support that mission more efficiently. Because of our western location and available land, we are one of the Army's leaders in energy efficiency efforts."

Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada, a subordinate of Tooele and another of Army Materiel Command's energy leaders, is well into its exploration of geothermal energy as a renewal source for that installation.

During a brief news conference that followed the ground breaking, Hammack congratulated the men and women, who for 70 years have provided readiness and rapid munitions response to America's allies and war fighters worldwide.