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An ice storm in 2009 caused the Fort Knox army installation in Kentucky to lose power for more than a week.

“The leadership at Fort Knox decided, ‘This will never happen again,’” says Alex Beehler, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy, and environment.

He says losing power on military bases is not just inconvenient.

“It prevents the installation from performing critical missions related to deployment,” he says, “and if our troops are not able to deploy, they cannot fight, and therefore they cannot defend our country.”

So several sites have installed backup power systems to ensure they can remain operational even when regional power goes out.

The systems often rely on diesel generators, but Beehler says the Army is also starting to use on-site sources of energy, battery storage, and microgrid technology.

Fort Knox now regularly uses geothermal heating and cooling and natural gas pumped from on-site reservoirs. And when needed, it can operate independently without relying on the grid.

So as climate change makes extreme weather more common, Fort Knox will be better prepared.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.