Fort Custer To Become Climate Change Proof

Oct 25, 2016

A partially constructed wind tunnel. A new type of wind power from the Sheerwind Company based in Minnesota. It funnels wind to increase wind speeds that then blow past propellers to make energy.
Credit Rebecca Thiele/WMUK

The Michigan National Guard and the Air National Guard will work to make its bases - and the communities near them - resilient to climate change. This comes three years after President Obama signed an Executive Order that instructs federal agencies to help state and local leaders prepare for extreme weather caused by climate change. 

Bases at Fort Custer near Battle Creek, Camp Grayling, and Selfridge will each undergo multi-million dollar climate readiness projects funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Among other things, the bases will have sustainable energy sources like solar and wind power to serve as backups for local utilities. Michigan National Guard General Mike Stone says the military needs to be able to respond if the power goes out.

“There’s a value in energy security. There’s a value in being able to continue to operate in a hostile environment so that you can protect citizens and life and limb,” he says.

There is already one solar field at Fort Custer and the base plans to construct another. Fort Custer is also getting a wind tunnel - an experimental type of wind power from the Minnesota-based Sheerwind Company

When wind enters the tunnel, it picks up speed and blows past propellers that generate energy. Michele Richards is the natural resources manager for the Fort Custer Training Center. She says unlike wind turbines, the wind tunnel does not harm animals like birds and bats.

“The propellers are inside of a tunnel that don’t impact any sort of wildlife,” says Richards.

The Michigan National Guard and the Air National Guard plan to partner with state and local leaders. In the coming months they’ll discuss things like emergency response, strengthening roads and bridges, protecting natural resources, and farming techniques that can adapt to climate change.

To see the full list of climate preparedness goals, click here