Monday, February 14, 2011

Old Program, New Rules: Robyn Untethers ECIP

Nice piece in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Air Force Facilities Energy Center Newsletter (COE and NAVFAC, please send link to yours!). The only programmed money the Services have specifically for energy projects is the DOD Energy Conservation Investment Program, part of the Military Construction Budget. The Services submit a wish list for projects that DOD then racks and stacks according to their savings to investment (SIR) ratio. This has been the sole criteria. The lowest ratio on the FY 2011 list was .99 with the average being 2.77. The requirement for at least a 1 to 1 SIR meant no high risk projects need apply. Once the Congress allocates the resources, DOD draws a line and above the line gets funded and below the line tries again. But apparently, all that is changing.

According to the article, the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) Dr. Dorothy Robyn is taking the bureaucratic shackles off the program. In a memo last December, Dr. Robyn said that she wants to change the program from “one of funding the Services' routine energy projects to one of leveraging their now-larger investments in ways that will produce "game-changing" improvements in energy consumption, costs and/or security”. The memo lists six examples of new candidates:

  1. Dramatically change the energy consumption at an individual or joint installation, for example, by fundamentally improving the performance of the power or steam plant;
  2. Implement across multiple installations a technology validated in a demonstration program sponsored by DoD (e.g., the Installation Energy Test Bed Initiative) or the Department of Energy;
  3. Integrate multiple energy savings, monitoring, and renewable energy technologies to realize synergistic benefits;
  4. Integrate distributed generation and storage to improve supply resiliency for critical loads;
  5. Implement an energy security plan, especially at an installation where such an investment would leverage a partnership with the Department of Energy; and,
  6. Maximize performance towards meeting the energy conservation and renewable energy goals of the Department's Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan.

The memo recognizes that the opportunities afforded by Energy Savings Performance Contracts and Utilities Energy Services Contracts should not be the focus of ECIP funds. Nor should O&M projects be submitted for ECIP. The ECIP budget for FY2011 was $120 million, or enough for a single 24 megawatt solar plant. Unfortunately, those funds were distributed across 22 Army, 10 Navy/USMC, 19 USAF, 4 DeCA, 2 DIA, 3 DLA, 4 TMA and 1 OSD projects. Average expenditure: $1.8 million. Let’s hope FY2012 puts a little more money in commanders’ hands for the energy security projects they need to meet the mandates set. $250M seems reasonable.

Hats off to the USAF and AFCESA for an informative and interesting newsletter. Worth reading the whole think.

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