Friday, December 28, 2012

No Apocalypse for You: Mayans Were Wrong; DOD Energy Blog Continues

I know many of you will be disappointed in the failure of the apocalypse to materialize.  Having to pay that huge Visa bill is among my personal regrets.  That being said, our predictions for the coming year will be out after I recover from New Year’s Eve….but not right away! 

With the fiscal cliff looming and talk of “self-amputation” among DOD contractors, Defense energy efforts have been a candle in the gloom.  DOD is making significant progress, often in a “one step forward, two steps back” process.  The SPIDERS project is a clear triple if not a homerun.  The Fort Bliss 20MW project seems to be one foul tip after another.  And the AEITF is pinch-hitting for the Corps of Engineers while they sort out the MATOC.   To completely beat the analogy to death, OE has been sent back to the minors to hone their skills.

In a government hamstrung by infighting, lacking of clear leadership and beset on all sides by nimrods who “just want to drown it in the tub”, the DOD energy gang soldiers on.  Their efforts may not be appreciated in their lifetimes, but history will reflect that they made a difference when it counted.  They are not winning many style points, but they are advancing the cause.

Predictions for the coming year will focus on contracting efforts, energy conservation/efficiency, smart grid technology and renewable/alternative options for generation.  If there is anything else you would like me to make up stuff about, feel free to send in your ideas.  Until then, Happy New Year!  Dan Nolan

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

AEITF Turns Trash to Cash: The Next Wildcat Project

Hello from Spain!  O.K., I am almost over the loss to Navy….almost. Let’s get back to the business of ball, er, I mean, energy security.

The Defense Logistics Agency – Energy (DLA-E) has pushed out RFP number 2 to get up to 29 MWs of electricity from biomass.  The Army Energy Initiatives Task Force has worked closely with DLA to create this opportunity. This will be another lease situation supported by a long term power purchase agreement. 

The response is due on the Ides of March 2013 and the preproposal meeting is not yet scheduled so don’t let it spoil your holidays.  The solicitation is available on FBO under solicitation number SP0600-13-R-0401.  Informed sources tell me that number three is on the way.

I want to personally thank the AEITF for not making a liar out of me. On January 2, 2012, I predicted that 2012 would be the year of the wildcat project.  My prognostication was that only one off projects would come forward because it would take the entire year to get the MATOC online.  This appears to be the case.  Well done.  I am working on my predictions for 2013, so may hibernate for a week to do so.  Have a great holiday season.  Dan Nolan

Friday, December 7, 2012

Lions, TGERs and Goats: Go Army!

Great article on my friend, Jerry Warner’s Tactical Garbage to Energy Refinery (TGER).  The system has been through a number of iterations, solving the problems identified by field testing.   This innovative work will change how we deal with waste in forward locations, so that nothing is wasted.   This is great work that started at Edgewood and was supported by the REF.  Until we can reduce the waste we produce, let’s use it wisely. 

Now the military has had a solution to garbage for thousands of years.  It is, of course, the goat.  The goat can and will eat all kinds of garbage and is not particular about what it consumes.   There are drawbacks to goats that are obvious.  They are loud, filthy, obnoxious and odiferous.  They are generally found in herds, blindly following the butt in front of them.  Despite these obvious drawbacks, they do serve a purpose.  If you need to acquire goats to reduce the garbage you have, head to Lincoln Financial Field in Philly tomorrow.   There should be about 4000 of them there.  Take your pick.  They may be in bad shape after 1500 EST.  BEAT NAVY!  Dan Nolan 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Deciding to Decide: AEITF Announces MATOC Awardees...Will be Announced in 6 Months

Got a number of question on why the Fort Detrick solicitation was not being done under the auspices of the (supposedly) impending MATOC.  According to the AEITF LinkedIn site, "Extensive competition was received in each of the four technologies (biomass, geothermal, solar and wind). The Source Selection Evaluation Board (SSEB) kicked off evaluations on October 15, 2012. The SSEB will evaluate one technology at a time. Staggered awards will be made once the evaluations for each technology are completed. We anticipate announcement of the MATOC awardees by May 2013."  So if you are hoping for something in the next six months, installations will have to act on their own.  For those who are waiting, set your calendar for early summer and check in regularly.   Have a great Thanksgiving.  Dan Nolan

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sunrise in Maryland: EITF Post First RFP

The much anticipated first RFP for Renewable Energy under the auspices of the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force hit the streets recently.  Run over to FedBizzOpps and look up solicitation SP0600-13-R-0402 for the solar opportunity at Fort Detrick, Maryland.  The minimum array size is 10 MWs.  The Defense Logistics Agency – Energy is requesting proposals to purchase the power output in a long term, firm fixed price contract.

Interestingly enough, this is being done outside of the Huntsville MATOC which, to the best of my knowledge,  has not yet been awarded. Haven’t heard anything about the due date on that but will keep my ear to the ground.

This is an Enhanced Use Lease coupled with a potential 30 year Power Purchase Agreement.   The provisions of the EUL require the lessee to provide in kind services and, in addition to any proffered in kind services, there is a requirement to build 50K sqft building AND provide "other" in kind services in the form of a PPA rate discount.  Seem like you get caught coming and going! 

60 days over the holidays will be tight for this kind of proposal with proposals due in early January.  This didn't come in the form anticipated and it begs the question, “If installations can do it this way, why the MATOC?”, but, hey, it is the season for giving and this looks like a gift that will keep on giving…..for 30 years!  Go unwrap it!  Dan Nolan 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Money for Nothing and Watts for Free: More Fifth Fuel Tips

While we wait for the 100 plus proposals submitted for the Corps of Engineers’ Renewable Energy MATOC to be declared “compliant” or “non-compliant” (the equivalent of 007’s License to Kill), guest blogger Vince Marshall wants to remind us that the cheapest, safest, most secure electron is the one you don’t use.  Here is his piece on how to make money on the “Fifth Fuel”.  Thanks, Vince!

Energy Efficiency 101: Five Tips to Save You a Bundle

Over the years I have had many conversations with fellow energy professionals regarding how best to do our jobs. Some folks (especially the newer ones) tend to believe that expensive projects with outside contractors must be initiated in order to reduce base energy costs. Nothing could be further from the truth. In short, there are a handful of activities that are guaranteed to reduce consumption without a lot of muss and fuss.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Navy Biofuels R&D Get Royal Boost: Branson in Virgin Territory

Thanks for the heads up from Suzanne Hunt and the Carbon War Room.  In the latest exchange of fire over DOD's participation in the R&D for biofuels, the Navy got some help from British nobility in the form of Sir Richard Branson.  Sir Richard's Carbon War Room, according to their website, attempts to harness the efforts of entrepreneurs to leverage market driven opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.  Among its’ “divisions” is the Aviation & Renewable Jet Fuel Operation.  Their mission is “to reduce the aviation industry's greenhouse gas emissions by accelerating the scale-up of a sustainable renewable jet fuel industry.

A video was provided by the CWR supporting the U.S. Navy’s biofuels charettes.  Development of biofuels is a critical element in increasing U.S. energy security, but some have argued that at a time of diminishing budgets, we cannot afford this kind of R&D. Take a look at the video and decide for yourself. BRANSON VIDEO.  Dan Nolan

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Village Stability Energy: Not What I Thought I Was Getting

Yesterday's post: Thanks to Paul Roege for the tip of the day.  Big day for Army Energy at the annual Association of the U.S. Army exposition at the DC convention center today. You will have to register if you have not done so previously, so plan for a little extra time.  Information on the rest of the schedule is HERE.   If you can make it down, the schedule for today is as follows:

Tuesday, 23 Oct 

1500-1530 Village Stability Energy to the Edge Forum at Army Booth, REF, 1500-1530, Exhibit Hall B, # 1775

The 1500 event is of interest for all those who understand that local economic development and education are the keys to success in peace keeping operations.   I personally saw their effectiveness in Kosovo and when Joe Sartiano was running the Power Surety Task Force for the REF in 2008, he attempted to launch "Village Power" but got no where with the leadership then in charge.  Finally, the times have caught up with the idea.  Lights at night for study and power for start up industries create economic opportunities that can counter the propaganda of terror. 


Unfortunately,the REF briefing was not about village power.  It was about setting up a FOB to provide village stability (security) in austere conditions, not providing power to villages.   The briefing, provided by a very earnest Major, was a rehash of FOB energy problems that were first identified in 2006 by Joe Amadee at FOB Lemonier in the Horn of Africa. Read this post from 2009 for perspective.  Too many generators that are not optimized providing energy to energy inefficient structures and systems.  The only difference now is that the REF is providing an "Operational Energy Specialist" to selected outposts.  Don't get excited; there are only 8 of them.

Why is the REF still doing this after six years?  Why hasn't the acquisition system stepped up to provide the Requirements necessary to spark the solutions? The same contractors are milking the same system instead of finding ways to make the acquisition system work.  I am often accused of being critical (overly?) of DOD efforts in operational energy. Perhaps I am, but I hate to see money spent on doing the same thing over and over again.  Go back and read the reports we created for the Army  in 2006, 2007 and 2008.  Read the reports written for the USMC in 2009 and the USAF in 2010.  It is the same stuff.  Either get it into the acquisition system and fix the problems or stop wasting my tax payers dollars.    Dan Nolan.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

DOD Science Fair: USAF and USMC Look for Industry Help

The quest for energy security in the operational realm continues. The Army announced that it has taken a major step in changing its energy culture and increasing energy efficiency by deploying the Advanced Medium Mobile Power Systems (AMMPS) with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Afghanistan. The system, which has been in the acquisition process since the ‘90s, is expected to provide 21% more efficiency and 95% more reliability.  I assume this was calculated based upon optimum loading.  I never saw a generator optimally loaded, but you have to work from some sort of a baseline.  PM, Mobile Electric Power is deploying the system in a new manner whereby they will do an assessment of requirements and then install a right-sized generators to meet that amount of power.  They are also providing the training.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Report out on DOD Energy Innovation Looks at Past and Points to Future

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a K Street research firm, has just published a report describing DOD energy policies and actions to date, with an eye on what's likely coming up in the near-to-mid term future.

For some DOD Energy Blog readers who might lament some aspects of DOD energy moves to date, the report contrasts DOD vs. US national leadership on energy matters:
National U.S. policymakers have failed to implement a robust and cohesive clean energy innovation strategy. In comparison, DOD has embarked on a multi-year effort to develop and procure low-carbon energy technologies and fuels to increase national energy security and improve safe energy access for the Armed Forces.
In 2011, the DOD released Energy for the Warfighter: Operational Energy Strategy, a plan for addressing its energy-related challenges. Included in the plan are three strategic goals that reflect these challenges and guide its investment decisions: 1) More fight, less fuel; 2) More options, less risk; and 3) More opportunity, less cost
Definitely a reminder, not only of how far we have yet to travel, but how far we've come. You can read the whole report HERE. Andy

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Energy Security Update: Straight of Hormuz Less Crucial to US in 2012

Uber strategic analyst Tom Barnett points to a recent Financial Times piece on oil metrics and this most important piece of aquatic real estate. Quoting FT:
Earlier this year, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi opened new pipelines that will increase the ability of countries to bypass the strait. Fully operational, 6.5m barrels per day, or about 40 per cent of total flows, will now be able to take alternative routes. “The Middle East is much better prepared now than a year ago to cushion the impact of a disruption in the Strait of Hormuz,” says Edward Morse, head of commodities research at Citigroup and former US deputy assistant secretary of state for international energy policy.
Recommend you read the whole post, which includes a great map and infographic, HERE. Andy

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

DOD Drops Annual Energy Management Report for FY2011: Richter Scale Reacts

DOD celebrated the new fiscal year by publishing the FY 2011 Annual Energy Management Report.   Happy New FY2013!  The report took a year to write and is a steal at only $485K (to write; you can download it for free).  That comes to a little over a $1000 a page and comes with a “by installation” list of how much space they have and how many billions of BTUs were consumed.  It also contains a "go, no go" chart for every installation and key renewable sources.   This report is double the size of last year, produced at less cost and has enough information to choke a horse.  This will take a couple of posts to cover.

Bottom line is that DOD is not making the goals, but is trending well as reflected below.
Table 1-1: FY 2011 DoD Progress Toward Facility Energy and Water Goals
This massive tome has detailed information on energy conservation, smart grid, renewable energy, potable water use intensity and petroleum consumption for non-tactical vehicles.  I will address these in subsequent blogs.  The single most telling graphic is figure 3-4: DoD Energy Intensity EISA 2007 Goal Attainment shown below.

If you think of the dangling bars as the low hanging fruit, it is clear that they have all been plucked.  The cheap, easy, quick ROI efforts have been executed.  This means that the next round of energy conservation measures will require greater investment in techniques such as deep retrofit of buildings.  Either the Services will have to come up with the cash or make greater use of energy savings performance contracts and utility energy services contracts.  

Interestingly, the Service with the greatest reduction in energy intensity, the Air Force, did not award an ESPC or UESC project in FY2011.  This was a function of a policy that imposed an unreasonable bureaucratic burden for bases and has since been changed.  The tendency to grab the low hanging fruit is a function of the “requirement” for very short ROI timelines.  While all eyes are trained on the Army MATOC drama, serious folks will focus on the “fifth fuel” and find a balance between onerous policies, unrealistic ROI expectations and true energy security.  More to follow.  Dan Nolan

Friday, September 28, 2012

Draining the Swamp: Down to the Wire on Army MATOC

With a week to go to submit responses to the Army MATOC, the latest amendment (#6, 24 Sep) to solicitation W912DY-11-R-0036 lays out additional details on the Task Order process.   Among the particulars is information on what happens if a small business is acquired, the type of contract envisioned for the TOs and the basis of awards. 

If you haven’t read the 70 pages of Q&A regarding the solicitation, get cracking.  Within the questions is the definitive answer on the value of storage solutions:
"There will be no direct government compensation to energy storage facilities; however, offerors may propose storage facilities as part of their technical solutions to task order requests for proposal. In such circumstances, energy storage providers would be compensated by the selected task order awardee who would consider the energy storage costs in creating its price proposal. Section H(3) of the Request for Proposals discusses typical evaluation criteria for task order awards. Energy Security will be considered in task order competitions in accordance with the policy expressed in Sec. 2822 of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 (Pub. Law 112-81, Dec. 31, 2011), and Consideration of energy security could lead to favorable consideration of energy storage capabilities. The value attached to energy security may vary from task order to task order."
It would seem that energy security considerations included in a proposal might make the selection committee smile with benevolence on such proposals, but not materially improve the proposal’s likelihood of selection.  What will really drive the selections will be the firm, fixed price for a kilowatt-hour.  The solicitation has the typical language about “best value”, but, time and again, that has meant cheapest.  Additionally, just because you have won a place on the MATOC, does not guarantee you a shot at every TO. 

The Government “reserves the right to use initial screening criteria or other means to limit the competitive range to the greatest number of proposals that will permit efficient competition among the most highly rated proposals”.  Even if you are on the MATOC, you will undergo a subsequent screening for bondability, insurability, financial stability, and a price proposal within a designated percentage of current market prices.  If you are not within 10% of the Independent Government Estimate, you will likely be cut from consideration.  

This MATOC will help all the Services (not just the Army) reach their one gigawatt renewable energy production goal.  It is not intended nor designed to improve energy security.  If projects have a positive impact on energy security it will be a bonus effect. 

Every now and then, even when you are up to your ass in alligators, it is important to remember that your objective was to drain the swamp.  The concern about energy security at installations came from reports by the Defense Science Board in 2001 and 2008.  That concern is still valid, but this MATOC and all the money spent to stand up and operate the contractor heavy,  Army Energy Initiatives Task Force will do nothing to improve the security situation.  It will allow the Services to check certain legislative mandate  blocks, but that is all.  If these energy initiatives are not able to provide continuity of operations to installations in the absence of the commercial grid, they will reduce the carbon footprint, meet legislative directives, but have no impact on energy security.  The swamp is not draining.  Dan Nolan  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Operational Energy Meet Ups: Flock of Eagles Lead Army OE Effort

NOT a Flock of Eagles
This past February, the U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force (REF) sponsored an operational energy conference at Arizona State University.  Almost all of the players in the Army appeared and described their various programs. The major teams represented were the Operations (REF), Acquisition (PM, Mobile Electric Power and others), Logistics (G4), and Training and Doctrine (Brigade Modernization Command).  The only thing missing were the folks that write the JCIDS documents that articulate the capabilities required of the force regarding operational energy.   Now that problem has been addressed.  If you need a refresher on the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS), review this post.

The Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) has let a one year contract to produce the appropriate Capability Development Documents and Capability Production Documents.  Using the Army Operational Energy Campaign Plan (AOECP) and draft Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) the team will have 12 months to define requirements for Army Operational Energy for the next couple of decades.  The effort is being led by COL Bruce B. McPeak, the Director of Material Systems at CASCOM, and the newest member of the OE “Flock of Eagles”.

 If you are interested in learning more about the “Flock”, head over to the Military Mobile Power Summit at the Mary M. Gates Learning Center, Alexandria VA., 19-20 September.  You will get to hear from the Navy, Marines and Army as well as DOE.  In addition to COL McPeak, COLs Newell (REF), Roege (G4), Hill (ASA,IE&E) and Cummings (represented by LTC Foster, PM-MEP) will present.  These five Colonels represent the Army’s uniformed brain trust on operational energy.  Any time you put five Colonels on a problem, you should expect rapid solutions.  The Army is leading in experimenting and researching, but until the JCIDS documents get done, it is just tinkering at the margins.  Requirements come from the JCIDS process and Requirements drive Acquisition.  If any readers attend, please give me a SitRep.  You can register for the event at- or contact Lisa Madison at 1-347-732-5326 for more information or to register.

The USMC, which somehow seems to get by with just one Colonel, has released the data collected on energy use in SW Afghanistan.  According to the release, “This report is focused on three distinct topics.  First, the results of the recent Expeditionary Energy Office metering efforts in RC(SW), Afghanistan.  Second, presenting the lessons learned from the ExFOB 2010-2 Extended User Evaluation (EUE) focused on efficient powering and cooling of Command Operations Centers (COCs).  Lastly, presenting an explanation of variable power demand and how probability profiles can be used to understand the impact of USMC operating procedures on fuel consumption. As soon as the report is available, I will post a link.

Finally, from the USMC, the next ExFOB or BYOT (bring your own toys) is ready to go down at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept 17-21.  The Marine Corps' Experimental Forward Operating Base (ExFOB) process is designed to identify and evaluate commercial technologies that can increase the self-sufficiency of expeditionary forces.  ExFOB will host invited vendors to demonstrate their technologies. Fourteen companies will pay their way into the ExFOB in order to  demonstrate 19 advanced thermal efficiency technologies that provide energy efficient heating and cooling of personnel, bulk water, electronics, vehicles, and shelters.  If the Leathernecks like something, maybe they will buy a few for follow on deployment and testing.  The suite of technology, India Company 3/5 Marines tried out in late 2010 resulted in a $25M purchase for the rest of the Corps.  As in all the experimentation that is going on, significant upfront investment is required of industry, but the potential pay back maybe worth that investment. 

The challenge for small business is that most of the OE experimentation requires vendors to bring their gear to these events, at their own cost, in hopes of a follow on purchase.  The only folks with the resources available to make the follow on purchases are the REF and USMC Expeditionary Energy Office.  If you are trying to impress someone, impress them.  Dan Nolan

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Operational Energy (OE) Shifts Gears: Back to Acq

After somewhat of a hiatus, I am returning to my roots with some observations on current events in Operational Energy.  This is prompted by a recent conference and two upcoming ones.  On to the state of play. Upcoming conferences will be discussed in next post. 

A few of weeks ago, I attended the Admiral Moorer Military Energy Security Forum at the National Defense University.  After nearly a three year break, Dr. Richard Andres revived this excellent gathering that draws a who’s who in DOD energy.  This year’s edition was strong on operational energy with all the notables in the field in attendance.   NDU, keep ‘em coming! Official report is here.

Sharon Burke, ASD, Operational Energy Plans and Programs, began the day with an excellent lay down of the goings on in OE.  She began with the development of the OE Strategy, about which I have previously been unenthusiastic. When it was published in June of 2011, I felt that it was not directive enough to compel the Services to act.  Those directives were promised in the Implementation Plan.

When that document was published in March of 2012, I again commented on the lack of direction to the Services to take action; it appeared to be all about measuring.  I did identify that the tone in operational energy was changing; there was no longer a sense of critical urgency.  There was a sense of appropriate urgency. 

This was driven home at the Forum by COL Brutus Charrette when he was questioned by industry as to why the Gov’t wasn’t getting more done, quickly. Brutus put it in perspective.  The end of combat operations in Iraq and the pending drawdown in Afghanistan has eroded the sense of urgency for operational energy.  Or rather, an appropriate sense of urgency has evolved.  It is difficult to justify the Urgent Operational Needs Statements such as that used by LTG(R) Zilmer to request hybrid electric power generation in 2006.  Zilmer spoke about that experience to great effect.

OE is entering phase II of its long term journey to the mainstream.  When DOD was engaged in the heat of battle, rapid equipping (not acquisition) was used to rush new technology into the field.   Counter sniper and C-IED, MRAPs, foamed tents and portable solar units were deployed in small quantities and were handed from unit to unit during replacement in place.  This phase ended with the publication of the OESIP.  This document shifted gears to the more traditional acquisition model:  gather data, state the Requirements (DOTLMSP), R&D the solutions, and deploy with new equipment training teams, as appropriate. While industry howled for opportunities, DOD is attempting to set the conditions for long term success. COL Paul Roege laid out the Army’s approach in his presentation on “Energy Informed Operations”. 

Burke’s office has been working behind the scenes to create those conditions for success.    The OESIP was designed to get the COCOMs and Services to examine their own practices and identify capabilities gaps.  Organizationally, OE positions have been showing up beyond the Services in places like AFOR, CENTCOM, PACOM, AFRICOM and NORTHCOM.  Plan, organize, staff.  The Services’ introspection has resulted in efforts to codify the capabilities gaps and generate requirements within the formal acquisition process.  The wheel grinds slowly, but exceedingly fine.

The Services still need to address the vulnerability of operational energy based upon the lessons learned from the last ten years.  The COCOMs have the people they need to ID the gaps; the concept development process is moving forward slowly, and DOD seed money has been spread around to encourage the R&D.  There will be technologies that are designed for Service-wide deployment as we have always done. There will be technologies that will be deployed based on climatic conditions (think Mickey Mouse boots).  All of these fit the traditional acquisition process that the Services know and, sort of, love.

One area that is still facing resistance is the concept of the Fully Burdened Cost of Energy (FBCE). Although the Defense Acquisition Guidebook now has a detailed explanation of the Life Cycle Cost/Total Ownership Costs and the role of energy in those costs, the Services do not appear to be convinced.  The Army’s Logistic Innovation Agency is still developing their concept and has a robust definition.  FBCE was to be used to meet the congressionally mandated requirement to consider the impact of energy in the acquisition process.  According to the uniformed members of one panel, the Air Force is opting out and the Marines are not convinced. 

The argument appears to be that cost, performance and schedule are the drivers in the acquisition world and efficiency does not rank high enough to warrant consideration.  I may have misunderstood the discussion. So I went and asked the expert, ESG’s Steve Siegel:
I fully agree with (the) point that operational energy decisions should be based on contributions to combat and mission effectiveness – that is the basis for the fully burdened cost of energy (FBCE).   For example, in the Army’s Fully Burdened Cost Tool (formerly Sustain the Mission Project), the FBCE includes costs (and benefits in parentheses) in terms of:  fuel resupply convoy casualties (avoided), fuel resupply convoy soldier threat exposure (hours avoided), fuel consumption (gallons saved), fuel supply truck miles (freed up for other missions), aviation fuel transport hours (freed up for other missions), convoy protection gun truck miles (freed up for other missions), convoy protection aviation system hours (freed up for other missions), and dollars (avoided) --- 7 of the 8 FBCE factors indicate operational and logistical impacts, and 1 reflects economic impacts.  That is, the FBCE shows the operational, logistical and economic value added - costs and benefits - of reducing fuel demand and reducing vulnerable fuel resupply convoys. These FBCE factors, in addition to traditional operational energy factors such as system range and speed, enable decision makers to conduct tradeoffs and better see the full value added of operational energy choices.  The FBCE tool has been and is currently used at over 25 Army agencies and offices in support of operational energy analysis and decision-making for missions ranging from research and development to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Of course there is much to do here, and work is underway to further tie mission and combat effectiveness and the FBCE. 
All in all, an excellent conference that put much of operational energy into perspective.  These NDU events have always been worth the effort and I hope we will not have another hiatus.  Next post will focus on the emerging “Flock of Eagles” who are leading the charge in OE for the Army.  Dan Nolan

Monday, September 10, 2012

Other Peoples' Money for Market Research: Army Invites You to Utah

For those of you tracking the Army’s program to acquire 25% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025, another blip on the radar.  This past Friday, The U.S. Army Energy Initiative Task Force (EITF), in coordination with the Tooele Army Depot (TEAD) announced an Open House from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 10 and 11 at the Tooele Army Depot located in Tooele, Utah.  This is not an industry day, related to a specific opportunity (presumably), but just a chance to come have a look around, kick the tires and see what is what.

They are inviting “renewable energy industries and public entities to come to examine real property assets and mission activities at TEAD, and to learn about the potential of developing large-scale alternative/renewable energy at TEAD”.    They also promise to make attendees “familiar with the utilization of TEAD’s work-share program”.    Apparently, work-share programs are another form of Public Private Partnership, but I am unfamiliar with them.  Feel free to comment on this so that we can be enlightened.   The goal of this meeting is to “foster an open dialogue about TEAD’s renewable energy potential and provide a forum for industry to discuss their capabilities and interests in developing renewable energy projects”.   There will also be an option to audition for the staff of TEAD and EITF.  As a caveat, the announcement says that this is for market research purposes only; no Government commitment is implied.  

This is another example of an innovative use of the new standard in Government energy investing: Other Peoples’ Money.  For only the cost of travel, lodging and food, charged to industries’ vast business development funds, the EITF and TEAD will be able to determine what industry partners are willing to pony up to see and be seen.   Will this be the first task order?  Will participation enhance one’s probability for selection for the MATOC? Will Open Houses be standard for all TOs?  Who knows??

The purpose of the Open House is to allow the Government to do market research.   The benefit to industry is the opportunity to showcase capabilities and (I speculate here) gain insight into what the EITF and installations' process might look like.  I am assuming someone from Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) or the appropriate utility, muni or coop will be presenting to help folks understand what must be done to meet their standards as well.  Would be a shame to go all that way only to discover that the 10, 400 megawatts of generation capability that RMP has, is well above requirements.

I have noticed a disturbing trend among many of my clients and potential clients of late.   For those who don’t know, I help companies understand what DOD is doing in the energy space.   In the past six months, many of my clients have decided to throttle back their focus on DOD and refocus in the commercial and industrial markets.  The reason most often given is a lack of clarity in what the Government is going to do.

This is not a reflection on DOD alone, but on the uncertainty surrounding tax/investment credits, sequestration, succession following the election and many other variables.  Lots of folks sitting on their hands AND on their wallets.   For small businesses, this can be fatal.   That the EITF is moving forward should instill confidence, but helping industry understanding what the ROI for the business development dollars spent on events like these would be, is of even greater importance.  An assumption that TEAD will be the first TO is fair, but making it a fact would encourage even greater participation.  If you attend, drop me a note and let me know how it went.  Dan Nolan

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Where Angels Fear to Tread: Robyn Heads to GSA

Dorothy, we hardly knew you!  Yesterday, the GSA named Dr. Dorothy Robyn as the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service, replacing a central figure in the Las Vegas scandal.  No, not Harry.  Dr. Robyn has served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment for the last three years.   She was responsible for overseeing 29 million acres and 300,000 buildings.  Going to the GSA in the wake of the recent failure in leadership there is typical of DOD folks.  When most people run from the disaster site………

Dr. Robyn has worked hard to make energy security a priority despite not having the Title 10 authority the Services wield.  She evolved the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) into installation energy security technologies test beds.  Robyn changed the scope of the Energy Conservation Improvement Program to allow its wider application for energy security.   Her interpretation of various policies have made efforts like the Army’s  $7.1B PPA RFP possible.  Whenever I had a question for her office, I always got a prompt and straightforward answer.  Usually from her.  All of this has been done with the quiet dignity and understated manner of a true professional. 

DOD’s loss is GSA gain.  The crucible of the scandal through which they are now passing will (hopefully) leave them leaner, tougher and more self-aware.  Dr. Robyn will be a valuable addition to the GSA team and we wish her all the best in this new challenge.  Dan Nolan

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

MATOC Industry Day: More Blind Date than Match Making

I attended the $7.1B Army PPA MATOC industry day, hosted at Redstone Arsenal by the Huntsville Corps of Engineers along with about 600 interested and, in some cases, anxious parties. When I wrote about this last week, I emphasized the opportunity for match making. The reality did not meet the opportunity.   The briefings were as informative as contracting specialist can make them and many questions were answered.  Many were not.  The desire for a number of the industry attendees was to find team partners, but the Corps folks hadn’t figured that out.  All name tags were just generic “VISITOR” badges and all questions had to submitted on cards to preclude advertisement in the disguise of a question.  Still, at the end of the day, the Corps did offer to distribute the attendee listing via Projnet.  They are getting there.

The bottomline is that this MATOC is employing a tried and true process to do something that has not really been done before.  The Corps and the Army Energy Initiative Task Force are finding their way, making sure they are as open as they can be and still maintain consistency with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FARs).  The FARs are not exactly the most flexible set of rules around, but they are the most exacting.  Every compliant proposal will be awarded, according to the folks there.   The challenge will be in being compliant.  The most demanding requirement, for past performance, will make or break proposals.

For the four technologies specified (solar (2MW), wind, biomass, geothermal (4MW)), proposers for any of the techs would have to demonstrate that they had designed, financed, built and operated that technology in three or more commercial projects in the United States in the same general application as in the proposed project, and that it has been in operation in each such commercial project for at least  three years.   If you do not have the requisite past performance, you can’t propose for that technology.  Proposers may be certified in one technology, but not in another.  There will be no communication with the source selection board, so get it right the first time.

The other bone of contention was over the requirement for a price for a given technology.  John Lushetsky of the AEITF gave me a good explanation of the FAR requirements for a price in a MATOC, but when one thinks about a number that will serve as the ceiling for future pricing on task orders with the potential of a 30 year contract, one can become nervous and giggly.   Too low and you will never make a cent; too high and you are non-compliant.  My guess is that it will be difficult to disqualify a proposer on price, but if you provide the price per kilowatt-hour for your tech at 4:00 p.m. on August 4th in downtown L.A., you should not be far off.

Several attendees asked questions regarding specifics of the eventual task orders that will come out. The Corps team flatly refused to discuss TOs.   The AEITF is working to develop those, but gave no indications when the first TOs would be released.  The AEITF will be coordinating NEPA, DOD Energy Clearing House and other administrative tasks in order to relieve industry of those burdens.   The challenge for the AEITF and Industry will be the pace at which those TOs are released.  Too fast and business development budget can be overwhelmed.  Too slow and potential bidders will have to move on to other projects.  What would be useful is some sort of indication of the types of technology being considered by installation to allow for initial research.  This would have to be consistent with the requirements of the FARs.

Although not a major topic of discussion, interaction with the utilities did come up.  The Corps representatives allowed as that they could use the provision of USC 591 to “circumvent” the utilities if they are “unwilling or unable to meet unusual standards of service reliability that are necessary for purposes of national defense”.  The SecDef can authorize “purchasing electricity from any provider if the Secretary finds that the utility having the applicable state-approved franchise (or other service authorization)” won’t play ball.  Of course if the local utility feels cut out of the process and subject to lost revenues, then interconnection and wheeling charges could be astronomical.  Those charges are not to be included in any pricing.

As regards Energy Security, according to the RFP, “grid isolation technology will likely be required as defined in the Task Order so that a continuously operated plant will self-isolate and remain functional upon external grid power failure. The grid isolation effort will be included as an optional price in the Task Order”.  When asked about energy storage, the Corps panel said that would take it if it were free, but they were not interested in paying for it.  An intermittent technology without storage provides no energy security.

This is not a perfect process, nor will it ever be, but it is an enormous step that will provide an instrument for anyone in DOD to use in order to go after renewable energy.  The MATOC is only the license to hunt; the real business is in the task orders to come.   In those TOs will be the provisions for energy security and the details necessary to answer all (or most) questions.    Get writing! Dan Nolan

UPDATE:  The EITF has created a LinkedIn Group to facilitate match making.  Check out their Group!  Dan Nolan

Monday, August 20, 2012

Matchmaking in Huntsville: Intel Gathering and Speed Dating

Packing my bags for Huntsville and the pre-proposal conference for the contract “Renewable and Alternative Energy Power Production for DoD Installations”.  This will be a great opportunity to gather intelligence, but also do some match making.  Given the requirements for small business participation and the heavy past performance prerequisites, teaming and joint ventures are going to be the rule rather than the exception on this contract.  If you are a small business with power purchase agreements under your belt, please contact me here or seek me out at the conference.  Have I got a deal for you!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Post RFP, Pre-Proposal Conference: BBQ instead of Crow in Huntsville

In order to get the taste of crow out of my mouth, how about some good ‘ole Alabama barbecue?  I am headed to Huntsville, AL next week to take care of that, oh, and to attend the pre-proposal conference at the Sparkman Center, Redstone Arsenal on 22 August. The  conference for the contract “Renewable and Alternative Energy Power Production for DoD Installations”, hosted by the US Army, Corps of Engineers, Huntsville office, will be at the Bob Jones Auditorium, Sparkman Center, Redstone Arsenal, Building 5300, Martin Road, Huntsville, AL. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

5th Fuel Gets a Green Paint Job: Army Seeks Renewed ESPC Contract Interest

I was very surprised to see the latest Huntsville solicitation that hit the streets recently.  No, not the multibillion dollar PPA RFP (I’ve had my fill of crow on that one), but the multimillion dollar energy saving performance contract source sought.      One might wonder at the timing of this release, without the usual fanfare from the Army energy office.  Obviously, it has no interest from the Energy Initiative Task Force whose sole focus is big renewable projects.   Bringing this out on the heels of the much ballyhooed PPA deal would tend to distract, not bring attention to the potential project(s).   Regardless, I have always been a huge proponent of the “5thFuel”, energy conservation and this addition to the tool kit is much welcomed.

As most know, the Army has had a separate ESPC contract vehicle for some time.  This is the 3rd iteration. Army installations have always had the choice to use the Army vehicle, the DOE instrument, ESCO's on the GSA schedule or to initiate a stand-alone, separate contract.  Historically the Army has used the DOE contract vehicle and the Army's own vehicle in equal measure. 

If you look at the past 18 months, the Army has streamlined its ESPC contracting process so that individual task orders get done in about 14 months or less on average.  Also there are about 50% more actions on the Army as compared to the DOE contract vehicle.   

The news here is that due to the Army's overall increased use of ESPC's the past 2 years, there is an emerging requirement to recompete the ESPC vehicle earlier than anticipated to ensure a vehicle  is in place to replace the current contract before the ceiling on that contract is reached.   Meeting market demand?  What a concept!

So, what are the differences between what DOE is doing and what Huntsville wants to do?    I asked folks in the know in the Army and got their take:

-          Army vehicle has been faster from start to finish.    The Army vehicle requires installations to pay up-front, out of Base Operating Support funds. The DOE vehicle rolls in all "project facilitation" costs into the contract, paid back over time.  There will be  a  different set of ESCO's on each vehicle, and in some regions of the country an installation may want to use the vehicle that offers access to an ESCO that is strong in that region.
-          DOE has traditionally had better access to technical experts at DOE labs than the Army (which is good for projects that include renewable).  The Army feels they have addressed this and are now doing ESPC's out of Huntsville with renewable.
If the Army can figure out how to overcome some of the concerns Commanders have in using the current ESPCs (M&V mistrust, egregious markups, etc.), then good on them.  More work for everyone is a good thing, so if you are in this business, get you names in and keep me posted on the process.  The Army clearly has the bit in their teeth and are off to the races.  And good job keeping it on the down low, if that was the intent.   Dan Nolan

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chomp, chew...can't talk.....right now.  Mouth full of this.   RFP, FAQs and all things Huntsville related are here.  Responses are due 5 Oct 2012 (Amend. 1).  To the ProposalMobile!!  Hmmmm....feathers.....

Friday, August 3, 2012

Navy Goes Back to the Well: Repeat Opportunity at China Lake for Renewable Energy

No news on the Army’s Renewable and Alternative Energy Power Production for DOD Installation solicitation.  The 26 July notice indicated that it will be on the street within the next 15 days, so watch your lanes.  Circle 10 August on your calendars! 

The Air Force and Navy approaches to the Presidential one gigawatt per service goal continue to follow a more decentralized path, although both Services have EITF-like organizations.  The USAF’s Renewable Energy Project Development (REPD) Subpanel vets potential projects and then passes on winners to the appropriate AF agencies for execution. 

The Navy released a Shore Energy Policy in late June to describe how they will achieve their piece of the pie.  The policy defines energy security and is clear on what that means: “Provide reliable, resilient, and redundant mission critical sources to Navy tier I and II task critical assets (TCA) ashore”.   The Navy has had a Shore Energy Policy Board since Oct of 2001, who could fulfill the screening/vetting role .  It is unclear if they are passing out projects, but that being said, in pursuit of their one gigawatt goal, the Navy is going back to the well.  Literally.

The Navy released a sources sought solicitation for “Large Scale Renewable Energy Generation facility at Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake”.  For those not familiar with China Lake, it is the home of the DOD’s largest renewable energy power plant(s), 270 megawatts of geothermal generated electricity.  The four plants are owned by commercial interests.  The Navy is now looking for ideas in the 20-200MW range at China Lake.  The solicitation does not specify a technology.  While we wait on the Army MATOC, go check out the Navy’s offering.  Service the close in target while you wait for the deep battle to begin.  Dan Nolan

Friday, July 27, 2012

Preparing to Eat Crow: Is the Huntsville RFP Imminent?

Inside Defense reported that the long awaited Huntsville solicitation for the Army’s power purchase agreements is due out today.  It is 1604 EST on Friday, 27 July 2012 and nothing out on FBO.  If it comes out today, will not be having my normal pizza dinner.   I will be eating crow. I was predicting October at the earliest.   I haven’t seen the promised FAQs which I believed would harbinger the RFP.  Waiting to hear back from EITF on that.

Ms. Hammack, ASA, Installation, Energy and Environment, was credited with making the announcement at an Association of the United States Army breakfast yesterday.  I will continue to comb FBO for word and keep you posted. If it comes out, we can all start scrambling to get our teaming partners in line.  If it doesn't, well, whatcha dunna do? According to my last second check before I posted, as of 26 July 12,  FBO now says:
Solicitation W912DY-11-R-0036 will be posted within the next 15 days. The pre-solicitation notice was posted to on 24 Feb 2012 in the form of a draft RFP.
I still owe you a post on the very excellent Adm Moorer Energy Conference.  Will have that for you early next week. Weekends are for sissies and sleep is for the weak.  Dan Nolan

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Heads-Up! ExFOB RFI Response Submission Deadline Extended

Here's a preview of the language you'll see when you click through the link provided to FedBizOpps:
Due to a server malfunction, information submitted in response to this RFI (Solicitation M6785412R7306 Experimental Forward Operating Base (EXFOB) 2012-2 Camp Pendleton, California) may not have been received. 
The RFI has been re-opened and responses will be accepted until midnight on Friday 27 July 2012. Vendors who submitted responses previously are encouraged to resubmit to to ensure receipt. 
Vendors are also asked to submit a CD with their responses via U.S. mail to Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, Attn: Ms. Berniece Washington, 3255 Meyers Avenue, Quantico, VA 22134. New responses will also be accepted.

To all responders: good luck !!!  Andy

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fresh Reminders of Why We Work on Energy: Afghan Fuel Convoy Destroyed and Increasing US Blackouts

There's not much to say here, except that the world keeps reminding us why this work is well worth doing, even when maddeningly frustrating bureaucracy and other setbacks threaten to dampen our fire.

Fresh news that more fuel trucks have been blown up on their way to resupply our troops in Afghanistan, as well as a new forecast that shows blackouts and brownouts are coming more frequently and lasting longer and that it's likely to get worse.

For those of you who've been in the energy fight for a while now, remember THIS? The Ur document ... the mighty conceptual foundation which marked the start of many of today's efforts.

2008's recapitulation of 2001's Defense Science Board report on energy identified two primary energy risks to DOD, as well as a trio of recommendations, and marked a sea change in how we think about military energy.

From a Powerpoint version of this material, here are the Key Findings:
Two primary energy risks to DoD:
1. Unnecessarily high and growing operational fuel demand increases mission risk
2. Critical missions at fixed installations are at unacceptable risk from extended power loss
  • DoD lacks the strategy, policies, metrics, information, and governance structure necessary to properly manage its energy risks
  • There are technologies available now to make DoD systems more energy efficient, but they are undervalued, slowing their implementation and resulting in inadequate S&T investments
  • There are many opportunities to reduce energy demand by changing wasteful operational practices and procedures
Alright? So don't forget what's at stake. Even when important conferences are cancelled. And Green Fleets run aground. And alternative fuels are axed. The challenges remain and won't fix themselves. And the Commanders and troops need our help. And the country needs energy security. So stay with it! Andy

Sunday, July 15, 2012

GovEnergy 2012 "Postponed": GSA Pulls the Plug

1st GovEnergy Mascot:
The Endangered Conference

This past Friday the GSA decided to cancel its support to GovEnergy 2012 and the event has been postponed.  I believe that it is postponed the way Newt’s campaign is “suspended”.  

Apparently, GSA has been concerned about event contracting ever since they discovered that not everything that happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.  After much maneuvering to get other agencies to take a bigger role, which appeared successful, GSA kicked the plug out of the wall and went home, with the conference one month away.  In a response to query, DOD indicated that the Department still felt that GovEnergy was the preeminent vehicle to bring government and industry together and promote an atmosphere of trust through openness.  With the DOD goal to acquire 25% of its infrastructure energy from renewable sources by 2025 via third party financing, trust is enormously important. Unquestionably, this unilateral move by GSA will erode that trust. 

I sent a query to the GSA about the decision and received an official response from Betsaida Alcantara:
After a rigorous review of the 2012 GovEnergy conference, GSA has decided to postpone this year’s conference. GSA has found that the conference does not meet the standards that GSA has put in place for conferences and contracts. There were many unanswered questions about how the conference was structured. There was not sufficient time to make the GovEnergy compliant with these new standards for an August 2012 conference. As a result, we felt that it was best to suspend the program until those issues could be addressed."  
The financial implications of this decision are both far reaching and close to home.  For small businesses that specialize in the government energy market, GovEnergy is a make or break conference. It is the one conference that they know every federal player will attend and their scant business development dollars are well spent.   For the hundreds of businesses who sank marketing dollars into printing, booths, chachkies, sponsored events of their own and other trade show staples, that is money down the drain. For the city of St. Louis, it means thousands of empty hotel rooms, deserted restaurants and vacant convention halls. Presumably, the GSA will have to pay some sort of penalty and that is the expenditure of our tax dollars for less than no return. 

The political implications of this decision may be even greater.  On last Thursday, I met with Senator McCaskill (D-Mo.) along with veterans from Operation Free to talk about DOD biofuels R&D efforts.  I didn’t ask her if she was excited about GovEnergy being in St. Louis, but wish I had.  The Senator is in a tough re-election battle and has already been in GSA’s knickers about Vegas and bonuses. This decision impacts her committee position AND her home town.  I have asked her office for a comment along with that of Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) who was to be a keynote speaker at GovEnergy.  Hopefully, someone on the Planning Committee had the foresight to give them a heads up.  As the head of the Senate contracting oversight committee, Senator McCaskill will have a unique opportunity to examine this decision.  Any regressives who wants to attack investment in secure, economic, clean energy will now have much more fodder out of this debacle.

The bottom line is this.  GovEnergy is, and will continue to be, the single best opportunity for the federal government to improve its energy education, provide a forum for an open exchange of ideas with industry, and showcase technologies that have the potential to positively impact the American Economy in this new century. I do not know enough about the decision process to have a firm opinion, but there had better be something more than the GSA looking over its shoulder and getting nervous.  They may have been treed by a Chihuahua, but it is unclear what they have really unleashed .  Dan Nolan

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How Time Flies: Admiral Moorer Energy Security Forum Rolls around again

Just a quick note to alert you all to the 4th Admiral Thomas H. Moorer Military Energy Security Forum to be held at Mahan Hall, National Defense University on 19 July 2012 from 0830 to 1615.  This excellent forum draws significant speakers and this year is no exception.  All the notables from DOD will be there to include Dr. Robyn, Ms. Burke, Colonels Charrette and Roege.  A number of former senior officers are on the agenda as well: GEN  Fulford, GEN Wald and LTG Zilmer.  The topics cover the spectrum from the operational to the strategic.  Noted heavy hitters such as "Slugger" Sklar and "Fast Pitch" Siegel will facilitate panels of experts.  Finally, our esteemed Congress will be represented by HON Roscoe Bartlett and former Congresswoman, HON Stepahnie Hersth Sandlin.

Get there early to make it through the layers of security, but it will be worth the effort.  Professor Andres runs a tight ship, so it will begin and end on time. Hope to see you there. If you plan to attend please RSVP and direct questions to Micah Loudermilk at Dan Nolan

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Operational Energy Groundhog Day: GAO Updates OE Review with Same Findings

In 2006 I was working as a strategic planner at the U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF).  The REF’s mission is to find technology solutions to commanders’ immediate battlefield requirements.  In the early fall we received a joint urgent operational needs statement from the Anbar Province in Iraq, requesting a hybrid electric power station.  Because of the unusual nature of the request and the fact that I was an unusual guy, they asked me to look into it.  This was the now famous Zilmer JUONS that began the push for reducing the impact of energy on operations in theater.  Since that time we have seen the Power Surety Task Force, the Net Zero Plus Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration (the forerunner of the SPIDERS JCTD), tent foaming and the creation of the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Policy.  As of today, the PSTF was disbanded, Net Zero Plus wrapped up, successful tent foaming in Iraq was followed by a mismanaged effort in Afghanistan that failed but the ASD,OEPP marches on.  GEN Petraeus issued his own directive regarding operational energy, as did GEN Allen and countless conferences have shared PowerPoint after PowerPoint about the actual problem and potential solutions. But where are we today?  According to the GAO, DOD is on its fourth point of contact (if you are a LEG, ask a Paratrooper what that means).

In a report published in 2009, GAO faulted DOD for a lack of (1) visibility and accountability for achieving fuel reduction, (2) incentives and a viable funding mechanism to invest in the implementation of fuel demand reduction projects, and (3) guidance and policies that addressed fuel demand at forward-deployed locations.   In that same year, the NDAA for FY 2009 required DOD to “report to Congress annually on its progress in implementing its operational energy strategy.”  According to a new report published in June 2012 (GAO-12-619), the DOD has failed to submit any reports, so far.   The 2009 report recommend visibility and accountability for fuel reduction.  This report finds that DOD is “still developing an approach to systematically identify and track all of the fuel demand management initiatives that have been fielded, or are in the research and development phase throughout DOD.”  Still.  Annie Snider’s excellent article on the same is here.

The bottomline for the GAO is that DOD has done little since the 2009 report and they recommend that “the Secretary of Defense direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs, in consultation with the Joint Staff, combatant commanders, and military service components, to finalize and implement a systematic approach that includes establishing a mechanism to identify and track fuel demand management initiatives that have been fielded, or are in the research and development phase to ensure information concerning these efforts is effectively shared across the services.”  DOD's rebuttal to this comment is contained in the report, but says, in effect, "good point, but, we've got all the guidance we need, thank you very much".

All of the hopes of a revolution in operational energy were just that: hopes.  The ASD, OEPP made it clear with the Operational Energy Implementation Plan that the intent is to get it right the next time.  Fortunately, the gates are open in Pakistan and we are no longer paying an additional $100 million a month (yes, a month) to get supplies into Afghanistan.  I guess we will be able to withdraw more cheaply now.  The fact is that until you modify the behavior, change the culture and assign carefully define authority, responsibility and accountability, nothing else matter. 

It was once said of the U.S. Military by a Soviet General, that the American Military has magnificent doctrine, but they can’t be trusted to execute it.  Until operational energy is prescribed, not just described, in doctrine, the culture does not change. Dan Nolan

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 4th of July from the Energy Blogs: DEB and SGSB

On behalf of Dan Nolan and myself, wish all the great US readers of our two energy and security related blogs (the DOD Energy Blog and the Smart Grid Security Blog) a most fabulous Independence Day. And for the very many readers in other countries and on other continents, please note, if not celebrate, your own independence to the extent you have a little or a lot.

Progress in energy matters seems to move so slowly sometimes it often doesn't look or feel like progress at all. But trust me, from the special vantage points Dan and I have, we can tell you things are moving and quite definitely in the good directions.

Photo is of my friend Kirk S from Wisconsin yesterday on the Boston waterfront, where 120 tall ships are in town for the bicentennial of the War of 1812. We had a few beers at a local bar and saw sailors from all over, including many fine young men and women from the US Navy.

So once again, enjoy the 4th and be well.  Andy Bochman

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Scouts Report SPIDERS Creeps Ahead: Latest on DOD Smart Grid Effort

Got a couple of scout reports on the progress of SPIDERS; let’s get up to speed. The Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS) has recently (June 2012) begun construction for Phase One at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam (JBPHH). In December I told you that it appeared that the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) were accepting some new technical ideas and applique of microgrid components along with novel architecture for an Enterprise solution from the Burns & McDonnell.  Burns & McDonnell has teamed with IPERC and have developed a new distributed control method for the operation of the microgrid.

Remember, for security, centralized is bad, distributed is good. Many have talked about intelligent power management, but what appears to be surfacing is a much more robust method that moves control from a centralized concept to a network.

The software is installed at the load and/or power source (generator, solar array, etc.) and determines the consumption requirements and the available generation to set priority based on the needs and available energy. This allows for fuel consumption optimization, while ensuring power to all critical loads. Furthermore, the intelligent software adapts to modifying environments and equipment changes in real time without human user interface and offers enhanced energy security. If the promise of this system is realized, then we are a step closer to achieving actual energy security. JBPHH is now a named area of interest and we will keep it under observation.  
SPIDERS Phase 2 was awarded on 22 June.  Details at FedBizOpps (search for W9128F12R0014).  Congrats to Burns & McDonnell on this $7M win. The following is the intel to date.    The objective of this phase is to:
  • Demonstrate increased reliability for multiple critical and priority mission loads resulting from the interconnection of distributed electrical generation assets using the existing distribution network
  • Increase endurance of diesel generated backup power through the use of renewable energy sources during outages
  • Increase efficiency of diesel backup generators by implementing sophisticated control approaches across the microgrid system
  • Operational risk reduction through strong focus on cyber security. 

Renewable energy in Phase 2 is expected to double which will emphasize the challenges of energy storage and load management. Their goal is to have an operational demo in Spring of 2013.  Need to get that contract let!

Phase III will be at Camp H.M. Smith, HI.  This will be the first DoD project to implement an Energy Surety MicrogridTM for an entire military installation.  This type of microgrid is the trademarked product of Sandia National Labs which is operated by Lockheed Martin for the DOE.  It is supposed to include fully integrating Smart Grid technologies, distributed backup generation, renewable energy generation and storage.  Critical to the surety aspect is a cyber-defense with the ability to operate autonomously for extended periods during long-duration power outages.  This microgrid is supposed to include actual isolation switches and load management.

The SPIDERS program has its challenges, but getting this many folks from different branches of government, multiple industry partners and the utilities to do anything together is a monumental achievement. I salute the folks running this JCTD and all their cooperative partners.  It is far from perfect, but with so many other DOD energy projects facing fits and starts, this one continues to bull ahead.  Dan Nolan

Thursday, June 21, 2012

50 Shades of Haze Grey: The Navy Biofuel Initiative Under the Defense Production Act

Here is another suggestion for those lazy, hazy days of summer that are now upon us.  The authors of great summertime bodice rippers over at the Congressional Research Service have served up another slice of beach reading with the publication of their new report: “The Navy Biofuel Initiative Under the Defense Production Act” .    

It starts with a bold adventure:
The Navy proposes to use authority under the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA) to develop a domestic industrial capacity to supply biofuel. In its FY2013 Congressional Budget Request, the Department of Energy (DOE) requested authority to transfer funds to the DPA Fund, offering the justification that it will support the MOU with the technical expertise to move pilot-scale demonstration projects to larger-scale production in support of the Navy's Green Fleet Goal. Agriculture, Energy, and the Navy expect to fund this initiative at $510 million in aggregate over three years.
It blends in history:
In the past, Congress has found it in the interest of national defense preparedness for government to assure that a domestic industrial capacity exists to produce fuel. Congress set aside the (now depleted) Naval Oil Reserves and Oil Shale Reserves to provide for the Navy's fuel requirements. Congress later promoted alternative fuel from coal through the U.S. Synthetic Liquid Fuels Act of 1944 to aid the execution of World War II, and to conserve and increase national oil resources. The act authorized the Secretary of the Interior to construct, maintain, and operate plants producing synthetic liquid fuel from coal, oil shale, and agricultural and forestry products.
 During the Korean War, the DPA authorized the President to have liquid fuels processed and refined for government use or resale, and to make improvements to government- or privately-owned facilities engaged in processing and refining liquid fuels when it would aid the national defense. In 1980, Congress amended the DPA to authorize the President's purchase of synthetic fuels for national defense.
 Most recently, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the Secretary of Energy, in cooperation with the Secretaries of the Interior and Defense, to develop a program to accelerate the commercial development of strategic unconventional fuels, including but not limited to oil shale and tar sands resources within the United States. Except for exploiting the Naval Oil Reserve, policies that directed alternative fuel development for national defense interests have had to challenge newly discovered petroleum resources that presented clear economic advantages over alternative fuels.
And it concludes with a question we should well ask ourselves and anyone we know:   
An important policy question for Congress may be whether a domestic biofuel industry is necessary for national defense, and whether proceeding under the authority of the DPA offers the necessary stimulus. A domestic biofuel industry may satisfy concerns for a secure, domestic, alternative fuel source independent of unstable foreign petroleum suppliers. However, adding biofuel to the military's supply chain does not relieve logistical issues with delivering fuel to forward operating areas, where fuel supply issues have been more about vulnerability than availability.
Available as a E-Book from the link above, the report is much more reasonably priced than the 12-15% of DoD’s budget is directly related to the concern for oil in the Persian Gulf (2012 DoD budget (base+OCO) was $707B, with $85-$106B in annual expenditures that can be traced to our presence in the Gulf).  Even the $510M in Executive Branch money (not just DOD) is chicken feed as compared to the approximately 15-20% of the FY09 DOD budget that was used for protection of oil supply routes and infrastructure.  The average estimate of annual spending for US protection of maritime oil transit routes and oil infrastructure is $84BFor my Air Force who have said they will just wait until it comes down in price, I say, "take the plunge"!

So head out to the beach, slather on the sunscreen and cozy up to this titillating tome.  I am sure you won’t regret it!   Dan Nolan