Fort Supply Lake utilizes solar power to save energy

The shower and restroom facility at Supply Park on Fort Supply received an on-grid solar power upgrade, July 21. The solar panels will offset electricity costs for the facility.
The shower and restroom facility at Supply Park on Fort Supply received an on-grid solar power upgrade, July 21. The solar panels will offset electricity costs for the facility.

By Eric Summars
Fort Supply Lake

The Fort Supply Lake Office of the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making waves when it comes to the USACE “Go Green Initiative” – solar waves.

The project installed 18 solar panels and an inverter to provide up to 5 kilowatt hours of electricity to power a toilet and shower facility at Supply Park Public Use Area, here, July 21.

“The photovoltaic system at Fort Supply Lake is the first of its kind in the region to be installed in cooperation with Northwestern Electric Co-operative, Inc,” said Don Underwood, assistant lake manager, Fort Supply Lake.

As an on-grid system, the panels will supplement electricity to one of the buildings in Supply Park Public Use Area and hopefully reduce energy consumption and utility costs.

This solar energy installation was made possible through the award of a sustainability project submitted through a recreation budget request for fiscal year 2015.

Inspired by an executive order to strengthen federal environmental, energy, and transportation management, the project is executing the goal of improving energy efficiency through sustainable, renewable energy resources.

“Long-term, our goal is to see Fort Supply Lake become the greenest project within Tulsa District,” said Underwood. “Pole mounted photovoltaic lighting has been in place for about five years on select boat ramps at Fort Supply. This year we added three more pole mounted systems, and we have added three more through the Defense Logistics Agency Purchase Place system. Ultimately all of the security lighting at Fort Supply will be powered by the sun.”

Another way Fort Supply is trying to decrease the use of resources is through the use of waterless urinals at one shower-toilet facility and by continuing the effort to replace all flush urinals at all waterborne facilities with a waterless design to reduce the use of water and electricity.

To date, the largest “Go Green” project at Fort Supply was the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system in the lake office.

According to Underwood, all of the energy efficient items in place now have worked flawlessly.

“With the exception of the geothermal unit, these items have all been somewhat experimental and have proved to work extremely well,” said Underwood. “While the overwhelming majority of the effort has been geared towards smaller, more affordable items, project staff understands mountains can only be moved inch-by-inch.”

Seeing good results makes it easier for personnel to stay engaged and constantly examine new ways to improve energy and resource conservation efforts.

“Transitioning to conservation-friendly amenities takes time,” said Kathy Carlson, Fort Supply lake manager. “These efforts have been bolstered by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and sustainability funding outside the normal budget and likely wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.”

“Because of outstanding expertise and technical support from the Tulsa District Engineering and Construction Division, we were encouraged to jump at each opportunity to expand the conservation effort at Fort Supply Lake,” Carlson said, “And we intend to keep pushing for change in the way services are provided.”