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Military Explores Sustainable Energy On Public Land

Aired 8/7/12 on KPBS News.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has announced the Department of Defense will ramp up plans to harness renewable energy on public lands. Navy officials in San Diego are already working on how to do this without compromising military training ranges.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has announced the Department of Defense will ramp up plans to harness renewable energy on public lands. Navy officials in San Diego are already working on how to do this without compromising military training ranges.

The new federal initiative is a partnership with the Department of the Interior to use land that is not currently a military base but has been set aside for military use.

The Navy wants to make its bases more energy self sufficient, so they’ve been researching putting wind turbines in East County and using geothermal near El Centro.

But Steve Chung, the Navy’s Regional Community Plans Liaison Officer, said sensitive night training and low flying helicopters have precluded plans for towering wind turbines near their training facilities at La Posta. Geothermal buildings are lower, but there are other factors to consider out in the desert.

“In Imperial County, we need to be cautious in how we evaluate where we site the facilities, because we do also have bombing training areas there and we wouldn’t want to inadvertently bomb our facility,” Chung said.

Chung said transmission lines can also impede low flying aircraft. But he added, as technology develops, more sustainable energy options should emerge.

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