Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Conference Alert: GovEnergy 2010, Y'all

What: the biggest conference of the year focused on the intersection of US government (with a heavy dose of DOD) and energy (particularly facilities) matters. Big enough this year, in fact, to draw Amory Lovins as a keynote.

Where: Dallas, TX at the Dallas Convention Center

When: 15-18 August (a great time to visit the Lone Star State, don't you think?)

Why: as with all conferences, the speakers are the draw, but much of the real value comes from sharing war stories, best practices and lessons learned with peers in the trenches. With GovEnergy, many of the attendees are facilities energy managers or similar. Comparing notes on renewables integration and financing issues, energy efficiency initiatives and targets, and emerging Smart Grid and Smart Grid security matters. They've got a lot on their plates as power equipment that used to be protected via isolation is now increasingly getting connected to IT networks and, as discussed here on the sister blog, is being targeted by adversaries.

How: more info here at the GovEnergy 2010 site

Photo credit: n thomas at Flickr.com

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Can Solar be Tuff Enuff for Tactical?

To demonstrate progress and compliance with Federal clean energy mandates, DOD's got solar sprouting all over its facilities. But the operational side of the house, where we need to reduce fuel use for a bunch of core mission related reasons, has yet to benefit from this technology in any significant way.

Well, Wired's Danger Room folks report DARPA aims to change that, by investing in the University of Delaware's Low-Cost Lightweight Portable Photovoltaics (PoP) initiative:
DARPA wants the PoP program to yield solar cells that are more than just light and flexible — they should also be able to withstand dirt, rough handling and punctures, and be manufactured inexpensively.
The team is lead by Dr. Robert Birkmire, who, according to Wired ...
... is quick to point out, the cells DARPA's after will require some lofty innovation. Thin-film, flexible solar cells are a major priority for the military, because they can be applied onto almost everything — from tents to uniforms — and would minimize the number of generators and portable battery packs needed by troops in battle.
The full article is here. Here's hoping these guys make some serious progress ... and soon.

Song credit: soundtrack for this post provided by the Fabulous Thunderbirds - audio on Youtube.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Navy Vets in Key Energy Security Positions: NERC CISO

This post comes to you via the DOD Energy Blog's sister site, the Smart Grid Security Blog.


Just so you know, there was a shift in the force recently as Michael Assante stepped down from the CISO position and NERC sought an able replacement. This post (and this NERC announcement) informs you that, happily, the new CISO has been installed and we're back on track.

Good thing too, cause the electricity generating, transmitting (if not yet, distributing) industry is being pulled in two seemingly opposing directions: on one hand, the desire the demonstrate compliance with CIPS 002-009; while on the other, high anxiety that:
  • CIPS 010 and 011 are much different than 002-009 (see summary from James Holler here) and unless they're phased in VERY gradually, that means trouble
  • The new CIPS are based largely on security control standards like those in NIST SP 800-53 "Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations." Again, a whole different enchilada in terms of detail than what's in 002-009
  • This will force huge changes (and likely, commensurate new expenses) for utilities trying make the best of limited human resources, time and funds
Maybe there's a loose connection of sorts here. I recall that the SP 800-53 controls are referenced in DOD 8500.x security policies (see DITSCAP and DIACAP). Michael Assante was a Naval intel officer and seems to me he did a great job during his tenure at NERC. Now Mark Weatherford, recently the CISO for the states of California and Colorado, also comes to the office with a solid Navy pedigree. From the NERC announcement on him:
Weatherford began his career as a Naval Cryptologic Officer, where he led the Navy’s Computer Network Defense operations and the Naval Computer Incident Response Team. Weatherford has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School.
One thing we've seen in our talks with CISOs and other security professionals in the utilities and ISO/RTOs is the prevalence of prior military (though not always Naval) experience, including folks who did crypto and other cyber security related jobs when they were slightly less "seasoned."

Well, as you'll see from Holler's summary, if not your own hands-on experience in the compliance trenches, it may well be a rough ride moving from the relatively light-weight original CIPS, which really just went fully live on 1 Jan of this year, to the industrial strength 010 and 011. I for one am pulling for Mark to do a great job and wish him every success. We all have a job to do, but his is a key role in this.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Air Force's Latest Thinking on Energy

Recent DOD Energy Blog posts have shown that the Army is working to bring energy considerations to the forefront of its thinking in operations and installations. The Navy and Marines too, are trying to find ways to run much tighter ships where fuel demand is concerned. But as the tighter ship metaphor probably doesn't work for AF types, here's a new term that's just landed from AFRL: "energy optimized aircraft" (thanks to Steve Iden via Ollie). The goals of the EOA program are to bring more efficient systems to planes and in-so-doing, reduce both fuel requirements and heat signatures in future systems. Nice!

Meanwhile, the Air Force seems to be making progress in the present as well, with some good sounds coming from new Undersecretary Conaton, and leaders past and present, at USTRANSCOM. All of these statements come from "Air Force: to save Fuel, we must change how we Fly" in the July edition of National Defense.

First, Erin C. Conaton, Undersecretary of the Air Force:
We realize it’s ambitious, but it’s incredibly important to set specific goals for reducing demand.
Air Force General Duncan J. McNabb, CC USTRANSCOM points to comparative cost as a major driver for the process-change actions described in the article:
It costs 10 times as much to move stuff by air as it does by surface. Transportation Command has spent nearly $80 million on computerized systems that help plan transportation routes more efficiently. What you have to do is marry the technology with the concept of operations.
And here's an eye opener for you, from McNabb's predecessor, retired Air Force General John Handy:
Moving cargo by sea takes longer but is far less expensive. A single “roll-on roll-off” military cargo ship can carry 300 C-17 aircraft’s sorties worth of equipment.
Numerically speaking, Duncan's 10 to 1 is a major attention getter. But Handy's 300 to 1 is a mind blower. Often, the equations and metrics used to illustrate DOD's energy demand challenges are complex and hard to translate for regular folks. In these statements at least, Conaton, McNabb and Handy make it clear to everyone why the Air Force has fuel on its mind.

Hat tip to USAFA classmate, now USAF BG Ian Dickinson for forwarding this article.

Photo Credit: David Brewster@ Flickr.com

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Army Installations Energy Surge

Had the privilege and pleasure of attending an Army Bloggers Roundtable today with the following Army energy leaders:
  • Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, Deputy Chief of Staff, G3, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command
  • Maj. Gen. Howard Bromberg, Commanding General, Fort Bliss
  • Mr. Jerry Hansen, Army Senior Energy Executive, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Strategic Infrastructure
  • Dr. Kevin Geiss, Program Director for Army Energy Security
Mr. Hansen began with this outstanding (IMHO) opening salvo:
[The Army views] energy security as a critical mission enabler and an operational imperative, which can provide the Army with an essential tactical advantage. Our Army installations, our tactical operations, soldier training all require secure and uninterrupted access to energy. Our current dependence on fossil fuels and the vulnerable electric power grid jeopardize the security of Army installations and mission capabilities. Also, long liquid fuel logistical supply chains and convoys pose serious risk to contingency operations and increase the vulnerability of our deployed forces.
Each speaker then shared a few words, then the session was opened up for Q&A. Here are the take-aways I captured, short and sweet:
  • Straddling west Texas and southrrn New Mexico and as bigger than Rhode Island, Fort Bliss is following an ambitious plan to deploy capture energy efficiency gains, deploy substantial amounts of alternative and renewable energy generation, and in-so-doing, become one of the DOD's first NetZero installations
  • Intent is to be holistic at Fort Bliss, meaning, not deploy a bunch of independent, disconnected pilot projects. But rather, build out new Smart / microgrid energy infrastructure as one large, interconnected system
  • Fort Irwin continues its 500 MW solar build-out in California
  • Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada will get 30 MWs of geothermal power soon - enough to supply the full "base load" of the base
  • Energy security continues to be a secondary or tertiary driver for these initiatives. ROI-driven business cases, leveraging public-private partnerships, tax incentives, etc., help these projects come to fruition
Note: for related Army energy strategy info, see recent DEB post on Army Renewable Energy Rodeo, here. And click here for the full roundtable transcript.

Photo credit: Solar Feeds

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Conference to Highlight Energy as DOD Advantage

As there as so many going on all the time, first-time conferences sometimes have a hard time showing up on folks' radars. No so with the Internal Defense and Fuel Security (IDEFS) conference coming up on 8-10 November. With its tagline: "transforming energy vulnerability into military advantage" it heralds an entirely new way of thinking about military energy matters.

One that reminds me very much of fellow DOD energy advocate Captain Clayton "Mitch" Mitchell. In the concluding remarks of his energy security talk at last year's GovEnergy conference he said he hoped DOD's emerging emphasis on energy strategy might help provide our forces new tactical advantages over adversaries not inclined to think about energy this way.

I too share Mitch'es sentiment. Until recently, we've always heard about energy solutions as trade offs against mission effectiveness. The IDEFS conference is the first (I believe) centered on the belief that DOD (and its allies) become an even more powerful force when we learn to use energy strategy as yet another arrow in our quiver.

There's a great list of speakers, participating organizations, and much more on the conference here. And be forewarned ... I'll be there too. Hope you can make it!