Interesting Times lead to Interesting Solutions

Today’s blog post is from the Honorable Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment (ASA IE&E).

We are living in interesting times.  Today, the Department of Defense faces multiple threats and non-traditional challenges, all of which jeopardize our future security environment.

Lt. Gen. Mary Legere, the Army’s senior intelligence officer, reports that the key defining element of the complex, future operating environment will be the “lack of Governance or Rule of Law.”  Driving this break down in governance will be an increasing, worldwide demand for scarce resources.  Rising oil prices and scarcity of water driven by increasing demand; cultural and demographic conflicts, and political unrest in several regions; unstable weather conditions, and the effects of climate change; will create increased global tensions and worsen our future security environment.

The Army’s ability to accomplish our mission on a global scale depends on secure, uninterrupted access to power and energy.  With today’s volatile energy market, the long-standing assumption that the Army will have unlimited availability of affordable fossil fuels is no longer valid.  We must become more flexible, and adaptable, in obtaining necessary energy supplies.

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Due to the need for expansive maneuver areas, Army installations are typically isolated and at the end of utility lines. By constructing renewable energy projects, the Army increases its energy security, reduces vulnerability in the event of power outages, and reduces utility bills that are increasing much faster than inflation.

While we may use appropriated funding and performance contracting for smaller renewable energy projects, the Army recognizes it must take a different partnership path if it is going to develop the large-scale projects it requires to meet our energy security needs.  The Army’s goal is to have 25 percent of our power requirements generated by renewable energy sources by 2025, and, very importantly, to have that power consumed on our installations.

To address these issues and to comply with Congressional and Presidentially-directed mandates for energy consumption and alternate energy production (NDAA of 2007, 2010, Energy Policy Act 2005, and Executive Order 13514) the Secretary of the Army established the Energy Initiatives Task Force on September 15, 2011.  The EITF leverages private-sector financing and expertise to gain access to up-front capital investments in return for a long-term power purchase agreement.

To support the EITF, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiated the first of its kind, Multiple Award Task Order Contract, or MATOC, to identify a pre-approved list of project developers in four technology areas: wind, solar, geothermal electricity, and energy/biomass.  The total contract ceiling across all four technologies is $7 billion, and allows for maximum flexibility for use by other military Services.

These energy initiatives are part of a broader effort to take an integrated approach to achieving Net Zero energy, waste, and water across all Army communities.  The Army’s Net Zero Installation initiative involves 17 pilot installations that serve as test beds for new design approaches as well as technological and non-technological solutions striving to reach Net Zero in one or more of these areas by 2020.  We expect Army installations to serve as models of sustainability that minimize resource competition with local communities, have lower operating costs, and offer a better quality of life for our soldiers and their families.

The Army is collaboratively managing its Energy and Sustainability efforts at an enterprise level that leverages the best practices of industry, academia, and the other military Services.  We offer a model of successful public-private partnerships.  We are achieving all of this while enhancing our energy security and strengthening our ability to perform our mission in an increasingly complex and challenging global environment.

Army Strong!

To learn more about the Army’s energy initiatives, be sure to follow the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installantions, Energy and Environment on Facebook.

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Interesting Times lead to Interesting Solutions