Guantánamo — the place with the prison camps — is going green
Better known for its experiment in offshore detention, interrogation and military justice, Guantánamo is also a lab for environmental exploration.
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — Solar-powered lights serve as sentries where U.S. Marines once faced-off along the Cuban frontier. A team of Navy cops now rides bikes rather than gas-guzzling patrol cars in the searing Caribbean sunshine.
In this remote corner of Cuba that is better known as a lab for Pentagon justice and interrogation, the U.S. Navy has been quietly engaging in more low-profile offshore experimentation — seeking environmentally friendly alternatives to reduce its whopping $100,000-a-day fossil fuel dependence.
It’s a Navy-wide goal to halve dependence on fossil fuels by 2020. But the greening of Gitmo, as this base is known, comes with a particular challenge.
The base that today houses 6,000 people makes all its own electricity and desalinates its own water. It has done so ever since the 1960s when Rear Adm. John Bulkeley, then base commander, faced down Fidel Castro and cut off the naval station from Cuba’s water and power supply.
Everything from diesel fuel to spare parts arrives by ship or aircraft, more than tripling the price of power, according to base estimates.
“From my perspective certainly the greening of Gitmo is important,” says U.S. Navy Capt. Kirk Hibbert, the base commander. National security is paramount, he said, but the Navy mandate to curb consumption “has an effect on almost everything we do here.”