Thirty-five Years of Renewable Energy Project Experience at Fort Huachuca, AZ

  • Bruce R. Johnson
  • William J. Stein
Keywords: Renewable Energy


Fort Huachuca, Arizona, located 60 miles (96 km) southeast of Tucson, has had 35 years of experience with various renewable energy systems. This article discusses lessons learned from the successes and failures over the past 35 years, including: an indoor pool solar water heating system installed in 1980; a solar domestic hot water system installed in 1981; a grid connected photovoltaic (PV) system installed in 1982; transpired air solar collectors (Solarwalls™) installed in 2001; daylighting installed in 2001; a 10-kW wind turbine installed in 2002; a 1 MW wind turbine installed in September 2011; PV powered outdoor lighting installed in 1994; a prototype Dish/Stirling solar thermal electric generator installed in 1996; two 30-kW building integrated photovoltaic systems installed on new membrane roofs in January 2009; a 42.84 kW photovoltaic system that was moved from the Pentagon in June 2009 and was operational in early November 2009 on a truck shed roof at Fort Huachuca; and a utility owned 13.6 MW (AC) photovoltaic system installed in 2014. Also discussed is an experimental solar attic system that collects the hot air in an attic and uses a heat exchanger and tank to produce solar domestic hot water. This article discusses the design, installation, metering, operations, and maintenance of these systems, and also work in progress on the installation of commercial, off-the-shelf 3-kW Dish/Stirling solar thermal electric generators and solar thermal/natural gas-to-electric systems at a central plant. Discussions also include biogas (methane from a wastewater digester) and biomass (a wood chip boiler) recently installed at a central heating/cooling plant.


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Author Biographies

Bruce R. Johnson

Bruce Johnson, PE, is a registered mechanical engineer with the State of Arizona. Bruce was employed by the Ft. Huachuca, Arizona Directorate of Public Works for 24 years where he developed several innovative solar thermal energy system designs. Bruce also provided facility engineering design expertise for a wide variety of HVAC, fire, fuel and energy systems. Bruce then transferred to U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) where he spent 22 years providing mechanical engineering expertise and troubleshooting for Theater Subcommands, various related military agencies, as well as communication sites across the world. Bruce is now retired and may be reached at

William J. Stein

Bill Stein is a Research Mechanical Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center—Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. His focus is on application research of renewable energy systems in the Army. He has worked in the energy field since 1988 and has been a member of AEE since 1993. In 1993 he received an FY 1992 Individual Federal Energy Efficiency Award for his energy work at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. In 2011 he did energy work at the Afghanistan National Security University near Kabul and in 2012 and 2013 for six months each time did energy work as the Operational Energy Manager at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. He developed the vulnerability and mitigation analysis for the recently awarded (10 September 2015) $200 million Power Delivery Power Purchase Agreement for the expansion of the electrical grid in Afghanistan.