Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another Senate Booster for DOD Energy Leadership Post

Yesterday I reprised the exchange on energy between Senator John Thune and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Today I have a short segment involving Senate Armed Services Committee member Mark Udall of Colorado and the Secretary. 

The House and Senate can influence DOD in many ways, but some things the Department just has to do for itself. The appointment of the first "Director for Operational Energy Plans and Programs" and the serious formulation and promulgation of energy leadership and policy department wide are in that latter category. Without further adieu, here are Senator Udall's comments to Gates just two days ago. Notice how Udall invokes not just NDAA 2009 that authorized the position, but the desire of the troops themselves for true leadership in this most critical of all areas.

I was pleased to hear you talk about the importance of consolidating energy issues at the DOD and the position that was established in the Defense Authorization Act to do this. And I hear you plan to fulfill the position quickly. I look forward to working with you in any way possible, as in many ways the military is meeting in this cause of energy independence. The men and women in uniform know more than almost any Americans the price of having to defend oil supplies lines and our dependence on regimes that don't particularly like us. So I commend you for this effort and again look forward to working with you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gates Senate Testimony on DOD Energy Chief

Senate Armed Services Committee member John Thune had an energy focused exchange with Secretary Gates earlier this week. I've distilled it down to its essence for your reading pleasure and efficiency. Much of Thune's intro is a rehash of the basic stats readers of the DOD Energy Blog will be well aware of, so here's a cut to his question and Gates' answer in full:

Last month Air Force Secretary Donnelly ... signed an Air Force energy program policy memorandum establishing the goals of certifying the entire Air Force fleet to use a synthetic fuel blend by the year 2011, and to require 50 percent of the Air Force's domestic aviation fuel requirement be an alternative fuel blend by the year 2016.... do you think that the Air Force's energy initiative regarding synthetic and alternative fuels is something that should be considered for department-wide implementation? 
Yes ... one of the transition papers that was prepared for my successor had to do with a consolidation of oversight within the Department of Defense on energy-related issues that would enable it. We have many individual programs in the Department of Defense oriented toward energy conservation and toward alternative fuels, but there is no one place where it all comes together for oversight or [for the] sharing of ideas or the sharing of technologies and so on.

I think that, if I'm not mistaken, there is a position provided for in the department at a fairly senior level to do this. And it would be my intention to fill that position, to accomplish what you just suggested, but with a broader mandate than that.
He's right about the disparate islands of energy activity at present, and about the new but vacant leadership position. It was established late last year, and is called the "Director for Operational Energy Plans and Programs." Let's hope he fills it fast.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CBSA on China and US Energy Security

The K Street-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CBSA) issued its 76 page take on the state of the world vs. US about 6 months ago. In their "Strategy for Long Haul: Challenges to US National Security," Andrew Krepinevich and team contend the gravest future threats to the US come in 3 flavors: Radical Islam, China, and Nuclear Proliferation. While oil politics and economics are inexorably tied to the Islamic threat, it's in a burgeoning China that the report finds the greater energy-induced threat:
China ... faces major energy shortages over the long-term that could be a source of conflict. For example, China imported less than two million barrels of oil per day (bbl/d) in 2002, but that figure is projected to soar to between 9.5 and 15 million bbl/d by 2025. Today, China is the world’s second largest consumer and third largest importer of petroleum, bringing in over 40 percent of the oil required to meet domestic demand. Although the Chinese are taking steps to address their growing dependence on oil, to include the development of oil pipelines from Central Asia and Russia and the increase of natural gas imports, these will not eliminate China’s heavy dependence on oil in the foreseeable future.
So that's the demand side. Below, it appears the US has the upper hand on supply side factors ... at least at first: 
China’s growing oil and natural gas dependence could be a prescription for friction between Washington and Beijing. Thanks to its military and political alliances, the United States maintains a formidable presence in key petroleum-producing regions. The United States is capable of intervening when necessary to address threats to its energy supplies; the US fleet controls the key ocean transit routes. China possesses neither advantage. However, over time China may use its expanded military capability to deny the United States secure access to its energy supplies, thereby placing both countries’ economic security at risk. Depending upon what form these actions might take (e.g., challenging the US fleet for sea control from the Gulf to East Asia or, failing that, using its military power—its submarine fleet and extended range missiles, for example—to create a comparable threat to US offshore oil supplies or transport of same), the United States might be hard-pressed to field effective countermeasures.
Just another in the long laundry list of reasons why DOD needs to move on energy as swiftly as possible right now ... despite the faultering economy, despite the current low price of oil, despite the present relatively good state of relations with China. It's time to prepare for the inevitable ... and by thorough preparation, tilt the odds greatly in our favor.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Air Force Changing to Drive Down Fuel Use

I had the privilege of interviewing Kevin Billings a few months ago via DOD PAO's New Media operation when he commented on the Air Force's resolve on reducing its fuel use. Well here he is again, in, describing fuel-driven USAF operational changes in much more detail:
Using techniques such flying more direct routes to their destinations to taxing aircraft on fewer engines or starting engines at later times before takeoff and using simulators far more often, the service has managed to save millions of dollars in energy costs, according to Kevin Billings, acting assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, logistics and environment. “We had a 3-percent reduction in fuel use last year while flying expanded missions,” said Billings during a Jan. 14 interview at the Pentagon. Service officials achieved this by expanding direct routing of aircraft, reducing the weight of aircraft, using simulators and updating maintenance procedures.
Billings also says fuel savings are also possible via better coordination with civilian agencies, like State: 

The service is ... working with the State Department to expedite diplomatic clearances for its aircraft. This would allow the jets to fly much more direct and efficient routes through other nations’ airspace. 

... and the FAA:

[USAF] is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to let its planes to descend on direct glide paths during landing instead of gradually “stepping down,” said the assistant secretary. This will let the Air Force take advantage of new Global Positioning System-based navigation tools that allow more efficient flight patterns while maintaining safety, according to Billings.

This is all good stuff and we need to see more of it. The Air Force has by far the largest energy burden of the 4 services, and uses the vast majority of the fuel. Stay tuned for more ...

Photo: GPS Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) by Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, January 25, 2009

DOD Energy Stimulus Carrots ... and EPA Sticks

We're still in the first week of the Obama administration, and there's already a lot in motion re: DOD energy, as the Congress prepares to giveth and the new EPA readies to taketh away. That is, Congress looks like it's soon going to pass a stimulus plan that includes a small boost for DOD energy research
Amid the $825 billion that the U.S. Congress proposes to spend to resuscitate the U.S. economy, there’s a $350 million sliver in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the U.S. military to conduct research into renewable energy .... The proposed legislation does not list specific projects on which the money is to be spent. Rather, “it looks like it is seed money for better ideas,” defense budget analyst Christopher Hellman said.
At the same time, the NY Times reports today that California and about a dozen other states who fought the Bush administration's EPA over for their right to increase fuel economy standards are about to see the tables turn their way and restrict the rights of car makers to sell cars that don't meet set efficiency standards in their markets:
the centerpiece of Monday’s anticipated announcement is Mr. Obama’s directive to the Environmental Protection Agency to begin work immediately on granting California a waiver, under the Clean Air Act, which allows the state, a longtime leader in air quality matters, to set standards for automobile emissions stricter than the national rules.
Not sure if bases in those states will be affected by the new EPA policies, but the Army, with its recent lease of 4,000 electric cars and possibly many more, is ready if they are. Meanwhile, the folks in the Pentagon trying to read the tea leaves are probably having an interesting time keeping track of the all the new policy directions. And it's day 5.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wave and Wind Power for Coastal Facilties

Not sure why a former Army guy is so interested in getting his feet wet, but West Point grad John Miller is championing a cause that with proper funding, could give the US a big advantage in wave and offshore wind power R&D. (Note: we're far behind Europe at this point).

As the DOD works to identify solutions to the DSB Energy Task Force's recommendation to reduce bases' dependence on the fragile national grid, wave and offshore wind could play a significant role, especially for Navy and Coast Guard installations. John is one of a handful of folks in the US with the foresight and stamina to get the early stage work off the ground, and is proposing to stand up the National Offshore Renewable Energy Innovation Zone between Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and waters to the south.

This region has the perfect mixture of environments to test every type of wave and offshore wind power technology, including lower and higher power wave zones, as well as shallow and deep water wind zones, all in a surprisingly compact area. Key benefits of this approach include:
  • Reduced R&D costs and risks
  • Faster/easier path to market for wave and near shore-wind tech co's
  • National training site for renewable energy engineers and technicians
You can learn more about John's work here, but it's also worth checking out in person: it's a beautiful area, and I'm sure he'd be a great host.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Navy Chief Contemplates Two Major Crises

In this DefenseNews article, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Gary Roughead fully "gets it" re: energy security and the USN. He is also coming to grips with the full implications of the US financial crisis re: Navy budgets. On the former, Roughead:
... told a packed auditorium at the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium [last week] that he has been studying the operating costs of the Navy's latest ships, and the prospect of high fuel and operating costs decades from now "scares the heck out of me." The world is running out of oil, he said. "If we don't get serious about energy, we're delivering a terrible future to our children." To stave that off, the Navy needs to put its maximum effort toward making its ships as efficient as possible, Roughead said. "It's not just going to be trailing another shaft or turning off lights in more spaces."
On the later, I'd recommend a recent piece by National Defense Magazine President Larry Farrell called "The Future Has Arrived, Sooner than Expected", in which he cites a report by  the fiscal watchdog Peter G. Peterson Foundation:
[the report] paints a frightening outlook. It notes that the United States only balanced its budget six times in the last 50 years. Further, with the retirement of the baby boomers, the nation’s finances will soon run aground on the shoals of unfunded liabilities. If revenues continue at 18.3 percent of GDP, by 2027 they will not even cover net interest on the debt, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The government will be forced to borrow for everything else — education, defense, homeland security and other essential programs. 
The newspapers said Obama was somewhere between sober and somber today as began his first full day trying to slay the myriad dragons at the nation's door. That's where I am too. But no matter what, it is definitely good news that the CNO has his eyes wide open on energy issues and challenges. 

Photo: US Navy

Monday, January 19, 2009

Real DOD Energy Progress ... or Beating Heads Against Walls?

I love breakthroughs as much as anyone, be they technology or policy based. But while I enjoy exciting evidence of progress, I place an even higher value on realism/pragmatism so we don't fool ourselves. And this is where I often find myself on this blog: shuttling back and forth between enthusiasm (when a bold move is made like last week's announcement of 4,000 electric cars for Army bases) and concern (when the Air Force seems to place all its hopes in the synth fuel basket) to fear, when DOD leaders continue to refuse to acknowledge the most basic new energy concepts: FBCF and EEKPP.

This post is about all three: enthusiam, concern and fear. And as usual, former IEA official Dr. Sohbet Karbuz does a better job of bringing it all together than I do. Like this, from his recent piece in National Defense Magazine:
... the Pentagon does not have a coherent and viable long-term strategy on energy. Its efforts on energy concentrate on three issues: supply oriented (alternative and renewable fuels and nuclear); demand oriented (energy efficiency technology options such as turbine and engine technologies, material and aerodynamic design etc); and cross cutting technologies (conversion of waste to energy). Efficient use and conservation of energy deserves much more emphasis. The Air Force’s efforts to increase the use of flight simulators, modifications to flight routes, efficient cargo loading, more en route fuel stops instead of in-flight refueling, and culture change constitute good examples. Similar efforts should be adopted by the other services.
It's not too long and I recommend reading it all if you get a chance.  BTW, on the eve of the inauguration of President Barack Obama, I found a great image of the Jefferson Memorial. Lincoln's been getting a lot of visibility lately, and for very good reason. But I'm also counting on thinkers and visionaries in the mode of Jefferson to help guide us as we seek exits from the tremendous holes we've dug for ourselves, in energy and many other areas. He seems full of hope and potential; now let's see what Obama can do. With the rest of us helping, of course. With the rest of us helping.

Photo by Trey Ratcliff

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Energy-Savvy NSC May Wield More Power This Time

Marine General Jim Jones is 1 day away from becoming our new National Security Advisor. Though if this report is accurate, he may quickly transition from advisor to manager if more members are added to the traditional National Security Council (NSC): 
The council currently includes the secretaries of state and defense, the director of national intelligence, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the national security adviser and the president and vice president. "I think the way to think about it is that those individual secretaries and DNI will have important jobs and a tremendous amount of power," Mr. Locher told The Washington Times. "We need something more, though. We need that ability to integrate. We need a manager. Gen. Jones will have to play a more important role than national security advisers have in the past."
As blogged earlier here, Jones brings a heck of a lot more interest in and understanding of energy issues than any of his predecessors. Were he given more power as NSM, he'd likely be able to bring more responsiveness to energy and other national security issues. Thing is, though, the most important energy decisions need to be made now, proactively, before we're in the crisis situations that are just ahead of us.

Photo: Washington Post

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Saying it Without Saying it: New Navy Energy Strategy Forming

In this article with excerpts from a December meeting of Naval Engineers, Rear Admiral Thomas Eccles, Naval Sea Systems Command's Deputy CC for Ship Design, Integration and Engineering, perfectly describes the need to use the Fully Burdened Cost of Fuel (FBCF) and an Energy Efficiency Key Performance Parameter (KPP) without actually using either term.

Isn't this a great description for platform design processes pre Energy Efficiency KPP: 
Eccles cited the Navy's new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) as a hypothetical example of how fuel economy could be weighed against capability in the development process. The fleet of 55 LCSs the Navy plans "will drink a lot more fuel per ton" than other surface ships, Eccles said. "If you want something that's going to do 45 or more knots ... that comes at some fuel costs ....  I ask myself, for the combat capability, is that a price we ought to be paying?"
Add to that this direct (yet indirect) way of defining the FBCF:
[Eccles said] that the cost of that fuel consumption should not just be considered as just the fuel itself, but also the cost of getting [it] to the fleet.
Too bad that the LCS' high level of fuel consumption is already baked in. But very glad to hear these sentiments described so bluntly. Now all the Navy has to do is take the last few steps, as required by CJCSI 3170.01 and DoDI 5000.02, and strongly recommended by two DSB Energy Task Forces, is to use the right words. Someday, with luck, we'll all be speaking the same language and making major energy security strides in the US Navy and across the DOD.

Photo: USN

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Air Force Energy Base Hit but No Home Run

I don't want to sound like I'm impossible to please, but ...

CJCSI 3170.01 tells DOD to "Use Energy KPP in all system acquisitions" and DoDI 5000.02 says "The fully burdened cost of delivered energy shall be used in trade-off analyses conducted for all DoD tactical systems with end items that create a demand for energy." 

Why then, does the Fully Burdened Cost of Fuel appear once and only once in the 33 pages of the new Air Force Energy Program Policy memo dated 19 December 2008, and merely as an objective to create a "pilot acquisition strategy" for an acquisition and technology working group?

I'm not trying to be a jerk, and I haven't read every word, but the memo seems to devote a lot more language to establishing an "energy day" than it does to making the FBCF a part of the AF's core acquisition processes anytime soon.  And there's not one mention of the energy efficiency KPP.

It's good to see plenty on culture change and alt fuels development and certification. But still, how can the the AF ignore such plainly worded guidance on energy analytics and metrics from the top? What about a little "Unity of Purpose" as the DOD attempts to bring sweeping improvements in energy policy to all of its constituents?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Army Goes Electric

Just got off a Pentagon Bloggers' Roundtable call with the Army's Senior Energy Executive, Paul Bollinger. Primary purpose was to announce the lease of 4,000 neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) for use on CONUS Army installations, each one replacing a standard gasoline powered sedan. Partners include the General Services Administration (GSA) and Global Electric Motorcars (GEM), a Chrysler company based in Fargo, ND. Here are the highlights:
  • Cars go 25 MPH which is fine for most bases
  • Recharge at standard 3 prong, 110 V outlets
  • Army also investigating higher speed electric vehicles for longer distance and off base use
  • May be able to replace a total of 28,000 Army vehicles
  • Large savings on along every vector: lease costs of vehicles, maintenance and fuel. Click here for electric vs. gas powered GSA fleet comparison
Lastly, Mr. Bollinger revealed this nugget towards the end of the talk: the Navy is inquiring about a similar electric car action for is bases and the Air Force may not be far behind. Were both to follow in the Army's footsteps, we could be looking at a DOD total of 50,000 cars. Now that's what I call making a market !!!

Photo: DOD

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Energy Changes Coming to DOD ...

... finally. In 2001, the Defense Science Board (DSB) published the excellent "More Capable Warfighting through Reduced Fuel Burden: Improving Fuel Efficiency of Weapons Platforms." When almost nothing happened, the DSB reconstituted itself (it's instructive to note that IDA consultant Tom Morehouse was a key member on both teams) and in Feb 2008 cranked out the ultimate guide to DOD Energy issues: "More Fight, Less Fuel: Report on DOD Energy Strategy." (Both of these voluminous and detailed docs are available in the right sidebar on this site.)

As we approach the one year annivesary of the second report, thought you might like to see what is, IMHO, the most singularly powerful statement it makes. Summarizing the key findings of the 2001 report, which have remained true all along, it says: 

The key finding was that warfighting, logistics and monetary benefits occur when weapons systems are made more fuel-efficient, but those benefits are not valued or emphasized in the requirements and acquisition processes. This is because DoD’s business processes do not explicitly, routinely or systematically consider either the energy problem or opportunities to address it. The [2001] report found that the requirements process does not require energy efficiency in deployed systems, the acquisition process does not value it, the procurement process does not recognize it, and the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution System (PPBES) process does not provide it visibility when considering investment decisions.

Ouch, that hurts. But there's good reason to believe 2009 is finally going to usher in some big changes. In fact, you'll see some of them very soon. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

2 Words: Solar Tents

By now you should already know about how spray foam insulation on tents in Iraq and Afghanistan has saved many millions of dollars, reduced fuel convoy size and frequency, and most importantly, saved many soldiers' lives.

What you should also know is that several new co's, including Massachusetts-based Konarka, are perfecting thin-film solar technology to the point where it can be built into fabrics ... like tents. The FOB applications are many, and include not just tents, but essentially any structure, parked vehicle or space that lends itself to being partially or fully covered.

With tents that retain 50% more energy, with micro-grid and energy management systems that save 20-25%, and with tents and other surfaces creating new solar sources of FOB energy, it's plain to see that Army field units, in deserts anyway, may not need fuel convoys much longer. Food and ammo, yes. Fuel, no.

Photo courtesy of Konarka

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Russia's Natgas Weapon Deployed Again

From a WSJ opinion piece Wednesday:
Here's the salient fact about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine over gas supplies: Russia's strongman is wielding the energy club to undermine the pro-Western government in Kiev and scare the European Union into submission. The strategic stakes are as great as in Georgia last summer.
Marry that with this recently in from the Iranian New Agency via Reuters: 
Pointing at Westerners' dependence on the Islamic countries' oil and energy resources, [Iranian leaders] called for cutting the export of crude oil to the Zionist regime's supporters the world over. 
That's us. I'm not saying the somewhat US-aligned GCC countries are going to immediately fall in line with Iranian guidance, but I am saying that if they did, we'd be a bit like Ukraine presently caught in the economic cross hairs of Russia's energy weapon. Food for thought when considering how much urgency DOD and the US as a whole needs to place on energy efficiency and new energy capabilities.

Photo of Kiev in Winter courtesy of Trey Ratcliff

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Time for an Energy Efficiency Mandate

This post isn't DOD specific. But much of what it advocates draws from DOD lessons, and has potential applicability across the department on the facilities side. ab

Contributed by DOD Energy Guest Blogger Drexel Kleber 
Host, Kicking the Anthill on AM 930 KLUP

Five dollars to the first person who can find a new metaphor to replace “the low hanging fruit.” Until such time, however, it remains an apt visual to describe the easy first-steps we must all take in our shared mission of reducing our energy consumption.

As you and I sit back down at our desks this morning, our legislators--rookies and veterans--return from their districts to begin the long and difficult task of crafting an economic recovery program with President elect Obama.

Regardless of how you feel about his overall politics, most people involved in energy issues believe that he is the right man at the right time for our country. He appears to share our belief that energy issues present important hurdles and opportunities for our nation.

In New Energy for America he and Joe Biden state, “We must act quickly and we must act boldly to transform our entire economy—from our cars and our fuels to our factories and our buildings.” More specifically, he seems to understand the critical importance of decreasing energy demand as the necessary first step to changing our energy paradigm. In his December 6, 2008, radio address he added, “First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs.”

Upgrading HVAC, light bulbs and insulation isn’t sexy, but these are required actions before any renewable energy projects are undertaken. It perpetuates wasteful DoD spending policies to build a 5 MW solar array for an installation, when, if only demand had been scaled initially, a 3 MW solar array would have sufficed. 

According to Robin West, founder and CEO of PFC Energy, there is no lower hanging fruit than these demand-side initiatives. They provide the highest return on investment with minimal capital outlay while simultaneously affecting employee conservation attitudes.

President elect Obama has repeated talked about improving the energy efficiency of all buildings in the federal inventory. This represents over 400,000 buildings and more than three billion square feet of office space. The time is now for Congress and the President to commit to retrofitting all appropriate federal office buildings with closed cell spray polyurethane foam (CCSPF) insulation in their roofs, attics or ceilings. This initiative would require an appropriation of approximately $4 billion in the economic recovery package. But it would improve building efficiency by 25% to 33% and the process could create as many as 55,000 skilled jobs in green technology companies.

Additionally, a project of such a grand scale would speed the process of making insulation retrofits more affordable for working Americans. As energy prices fluctuate rapidly these days, the deleterious affects of unpredictable utility bills hits America’s poorest families hardest. Weatherization programs have been in effect through the Federal Energy Management Program for years but these programs would be improved and accelerated by a nationwide push to retrofit all federal buildings with CCSPF.

We can make a case for improved energy efficiency based on any number of important issues: national security, foreign policy, defense spending, and American exceptionalism. But the most important arguments today stem from jobs creation, federal spending and economic recovery.

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few to pick this low hanging fruit. With a little help from our friends in Washington, we can find all the workers we need to attend to what may be our country’s most important crop. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

Update on USAF Oil Reduction Strategies

The Admiral Moorer Energy Security Forum held at NDU last December began with a fantastic talk from  an oil industry insider, PFC Energy's Chairman and Founder Robin West. His presentation included many sobering insights for eager advocates of renewable energy. In particular, one word from West communicated more than any other spoken that day, and it was "Scale" ... as in a current global appetite for oil of "85 million barrels/day." Nothing on the new energy road map looks like it's anywhere close to being a replacement for a tenth of that, let alone the expected peak supply of 95 million barrels/day.

Well, while some of that oil, especially for electricity production, can eventually be replaced by other means including nuclear, wind, solar, etc., the majority of it is consumed by the transportation sector, including autos and trucks, airlines, commercial air freight and the largest single user in the Federal government: the US Air Force.  Nothing else has the energy density of petroleum. Sohbet Karbuz's recent piece called "US Air Force Energy Plans" provides an early/mid-course update on how the service is doing with its efforts to reduce its oil demand. In particular, he goes into detail describing the ill health of syn-fuels companies who are trying to create jet fuel out of other sources like coal, natural gas and biomass. Short take: at this point in time, there's not much reason for optimism that a solution is anywhere close. Better keep at it.

Photo courtesy of Rob Shenk @ Flickr

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sklar Sets a Solid Energy Course for 2009

Welcome back and hope you had a great holiday break. I sure did.

OK, let's get back to business. For those of you who don't know Scott Sklar, I had the pleasure of meeting him in person in December 2008 at and after the NDU military energy event he co-sponsors. He is one of only a few folks perfectly positioned at the intersection of National energy policy, Federal energy requirements, and the old and new energy industries.

For those who feel inundated and overwhelmed by current bad economic news and even worse forecasts for the year that lies ahead, Sklar provides actionable guidance.  For the DOD (but not just the DOD) this would be good medicine. Not to mention for the renewable energy sector which could run the world, if only it could learn to walk without a crutch. Here's Sklar one month ago:
Many of us have been advising federal procurement managers, Members of Congress and the Obama Transition Team staff to not only accelerate the federal procurement pipeline now, but to add to it for the next three years and leverage procurements regionally with state and local governments. Such an action could create a rather large and sustained market pull for the clean energy industries.

This multi-year sustained government procurement effort would be multi-technology including materials, energy systems, vehicle fleets and green power purchases. Not only would this sustain the clean energy industries, it would keep them vibrant all across the United States. And of course, US taxpayers pay the energy bills for buildings and facilities that can last a century — virtually every improvement in buildings, vehicles or energy inputs — will reduce taxpayer supports of the energy costs for these government uses.

We don't want this short term economic chaos to undermine the survival of the breadth of the clean energy industries across the U.S., undermine goals to cut energy imports and emissions and undermine the initiative by our new President to fundamentally shift our economy to green jobs.

This may sound like a bit more crutch than some would like, but it also sounds like a win-win to me, as the government component recedes, percentage-wise, once the economy comes back to life. The full article is here and Sklar's Stella Group company site is here.