Monday, January 30, 2012

Pinning the Rose, Part II

Second part of Annie Snider's excellent piece on Energy Security is here.  Annie continues the discussion of energy security haves and have nots.  Lots more have nots than haves, but, once again, the Devil Dogs of the USMC have it about right.  If the utility controls a renewable source inside the gates, guns and guards, it is NOT energy security.  If the commander owns the switch, it is energy security.  Class dismissed.

I will have a report out soonest on the Army's Net Zero Installation Conference and the Navy/USMC (or so it seemed) Operational Energy symposium.

I also had an opportunity to sit in on a vendor meeting with the Army's Energy Initiative Task Force.  TF members were well informed, insightful and helpful. If you (industry) intend to engage with the Army on large, renewable energy projects, get signed up now. Contact them here  to set up a one hour session.  They will brief you on the program, listen to your pitch and provide guidance on next steps.  Worth the effort.  I sure hope someone is doing this for energy efficiency projects!!!    Dan Nolan

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Rose by Any Other Name: The Struggle to Define and Value Energy Security

Excellent discussion of energy security and DOD’s struggle to define it in a Greenwire article by Annie Snider.  Ms Snider spoke with everyone who is anybody in the Defense energy market (and some nobodies) in a two part piece.  From the half dozen definitions for energy security  proffered in frustration by Richard Kidd, DASA, Energy and Sustainability (previous post) to the discussion of the complexity in determining mission criticality on installations provided by Coby Jones, one of the best  energy program coordinators in the Army, the article highlights the challenges inherent in such a seemingly simple functional area, energy. 

For Dr. Dorothy Robyn, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, it is all about the triple bottom-line: energy efficiency, expand renewable energy and improve power security.  For thinktankers like the Heritage Foundation’s Jack Spencer it is about operational capacity, while for ASD, Homeland Defense Paul Stockton it about resilience in the face of attacks on the national grid.   For industry, the result is confusion about what is driving the market: is it energy security or the various mandates? 
The one bright star in this gloomy picture is the work on smart grids.  Without a smarter grid, there can be no real energy security.  Efforts from SPIDERS to microgrid work at Camp Sabalu-Harrison (thanks to my FB friend, S. Burke for this one) reflect the uniformed and civilian sides of the Services coming together in common cause.  The smart, microgrid effort is not being driven by mandates, but by the recognition that “assured access” to energy comes from understanding distribution priorities can change in seconds and commanders must be able to react to those changes. 

Regardless of the definition of energy security, until DOD can value it, industry does not know how to react.  Smart, microgrids are pure energy security value; they may also serve to make energy use more efficient, but that is really a bonus effect.  If DOD were willing to pay a 3% premium on power generated inside their gates, guns and guards, that would be market signal.  Anything done in the way of energy efficiency can be valued as energy security because the safest, cleanest, cheapest and most secure electron is the one you do not use. 

The follow on article to this one looks at renewable energy at military bases.  Hurry, Annie, we can’t wait!  Dan Nolan

Friday, January 13, 2012

Power Play for Power Delay: AEITF Stiff Arms Schumer Project

Senator Schumer at NY Biogas Plant
It takes a fair bit to P.O.  Senator Chuck Shumer, but the nascent Army Energy Initiatives Task Force has done just that.  Three years ago, a nonprofit group, Arsenal Business & Technology Partnership, was awarded the rights to develop a project supported by an enhanced use lease at Watervliet Arsenal in upstate New York.  Part of the plan is to build a non-intermittent, 24 hour a day biomass-fed power plant that would also generate steam for the Army's artillery manufacturing center.  In as much as the Artillery hasn't had a new system since the Crusader cratered, this seems like a good thing.  Problem is, the AEITF is saying, “not so fast”.

Seems the cooler heads at the newly formed organization would like to study the proposal for a couple of years.  Shumer is concerned that  this delay would hurt prospects of bringing in other organizations that support the nonprofit’s development concept.  The Senator thinks the loss would amount to billions of dollars.  So he called up the SecArmy to inquire about perhaps getting this unscrewed.   SecArmy, and former Congressman from the region, John McHugh has not responded according to the article.   Schumer has been a champion for renewable in N.Y.  This past November he interceded in a 1.4 megawatt biogas project, ensuring that it was grid connected in time to qualify for renewable energy credits.   He gets it and he gets it done. 

As part of their fund raising effort, the biomass partnership at Watervliet competed for state funds for the cogeneration plant through N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo's local economic development council.   $800 million in funding was available, but in competing against nine other councils around the state they did not win.  The proposal for the funding listed the price tag for the co-gen plan as $23 million.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Army is getting its ducks in line to produce an IDIQ for PPAs that would support EULs like this.  It is expected that the IDIQ RFP will be released ASAP, but will not be awarded until FY13.  And now we have SNAFU.  I asked the AEITF for a comment and am still waiting; will keep you posted.  I am also out of acronyms.

One technique of leadership is to find out which way the crowd is going and get in front of it.  This would appear to be a perfect opportunity to for the AEITF to show leadership.  By grasping the project to their collective breasts and charging forward there is an opportunity for a quick win and a good friend in New York.  With the current budget struggles, that might be helpful.   Will keep an eye on this.   Dan Nolan

IDIQ - Indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity
PPAs – Power Purchase Agreement
RFP – Request for Proposal
EUL – Enhanced Use Lease
ASAP – As Soon As Possible
SNAFU – Google it

Photo Courtesy of

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Local Energy Efficiency Co. Makes Good (with DOD)

Local to me, that is. Also local to the point of origin of the USA. That's Lexington, Mass-based FirstFuel Software. The company and its product sound solid, though I'm sure Dan's going to ask why they're not called FifthFuel.

We blogged on the OSD's installation energy test bed program a few months ago HERE, and in one of the embedded links, you can find DOD's description of how it intends to explore FirsFuel's capabilities:
This project will demonstrate the Rapid Building Assessment tool for DoD buildings, a software powered information service for accelerative energy efficiency adoption across building portfolios. The tool uses statistical methods and advanced data mining techniques to provide building-specific performance benchmarks and custom recommendations.
We all know that the numbers of DOD buildings and the square feet they contain boggle the imagination and dwarf Walmart. Now here's what appears to be an ultra-low touch method for rapidly assessing energy performance and identifying the lowest hanging fruit improvements in each across the entire fleet.

You can read a little more on this at online tech-zine Xconomy, one of the best technology news sources you've never heard of. Hmmm, and while they're at it, maybe DOD can test your house (and mine)! Andy Bochman

Thursday, January 5, 2012

US Commander in Afghanistan Says it Short and Sweet re: Operational Energy

Hat tip to Ollie for this. In a recent one-page memo on energy to all servicemen and servicewomen in theater, General Allen, USFOR-A, not the first and likely not the last Marine general to completely "get" energy, summed it up this way:
"Operational energy equates exactly to operational capability." 
Hard to miss his meaning. Supporting points included:
  • "A military force that reduces its fuel consumption becomes more agile and insulates itself from logistics disruptions."
  • "I expect commanders to improve fuel accountability ...."
  • "[Operation energy] is about increasing our forces' endurance, becoming more lethal, and reducing the number of men and women risking their lives moving fuel."
You can read the memo HERE.

Image credit (and Gen Allen bio): Wikipedia

Monday, January 2, 2012

As in Birth Control.......Energy Predictions for 2012

This is the follow up to yesterday's on.

In 2012, The Army will press forward with its USACE IDIQ plan supported by the Energy Initiative Task Force. The RFP is expected in early 2012 with an award in 2013.  In the interim the TF still will have to support other energy efforts, so 2012 will be the year of the wildcat energy project.  Although the EITF has not embraced the 5th fuel in its mandate, conservation continues to be the cheapest, safest, cleanest and most secure way to energy security.  Entrepreneurs and installations that understand UESCs and ESPCs will have a chance to steal a march ahead of the big IDIQ which will corral all future Army energy production efforts.  My sincere hope is that it will accelerate the process, but I have seen bureaucracies in action, or inaction.

The Air Force and the Navy will press ahead with alternative fuels with the USAF going after Jet – A as substitute for JP8 in CONUS. Has DLA-E lost the single fuel on the battlefield fight? When I checked with my liquid fuels experts, I got this response:
“There was a study done by an AF grad student that shows that Jet A will cost more.  Why?  JP-8 is more expense than commercial jet because it's made in small batches.  With only some aircraft converting to Jet A the batches of JP-8 get smaller so the price of JP-8 goes up.  Not all aircraft can fly on Jet A.  None of the studies justifying Jet A looked at the secondary effects.  The AFIT study was squashed by the AFPET/CC.  The AFIT Professor/student advisor and the AFPET/CC almost came to blows over this.”    
Second and third order effects in the energy world rarely get the visibility they should.

The USN will continue to look for new and sustainable substitutes for the various JPs they use.  Installation efforts by both will continue to be decentralized and no mandates will be issued to the base level.  I will be watching NAVFAC Southwest where a number of innovative base energy efforts have been undertaken.
Operational Energy continues to chug along with most people talking while the USMC attacks.  Not only did they get GREENS into the acquisition pipeline, they are using Smart Power to influence their local environment.  Check out this USMC effort in the Helmand Province.   The USD, OEPP was supposed to galvanize the operational energy effort, but it appears they are still building consensus with the Services.   The office published its strategy in June 11 with the promise of an implementation plan 90 days later.  In November I asked when  the implementation plan would be published.  I was passed off to the OSD PAO who informed me that:
"The Implementation Plan was released internally to the Defense Department in mid-September and we have already begun action on the initiatives outlined in the Plan. However, as with many other high-level documents of this nature, additional time was needed for full internal coordination with all relevant stakeholders in the Department before the document could be released publicly. Congressional and public release will occur upon completion of internal coordination."
We are still waiting.  They have staffed their office in Afghanistan with some well-seasoned energy hands so I look for some progress out forward.

The Army handed off operational energy to the Rapid Equipping Force (again), but has since placed staff responsibility firmly with the Army G4.  The folks in the G4 Logistics Innovation Agency seem to be leading the charge there.

Generally, we will see the importance of operational energy diminish over the coming year as the Services focus on redeployment and a shrinking budget.  As the Department draws down from 10 years of continuous combat and watches budgets shrink and sequester,  their plans to use OPM (other people’s money) to reduce demand and increase renewables will pay dividends.  It will be one place where they can point to doing something positive for the troops while saving money and, in some cases, turning a profit.  The various organizations focused solely on energy will face pressures to reduce their size even as they are moving from the planning phase into execution.  The ones that can point to a positive balance sheet will retain their jobs.  This will be a lucrative market, but an unforgiving one.  The Authorities are clear, the Responsibilities less so and Accountability is none existent.   It will be left up to individuals to do the right thing for no other reason than it is the right thing.  People change for one of two reasons: overwhelming threat or overwhelming opportunity.  Otherwise they just do the status quo.  Without reward or penalty, energy security is based upon hope today.  I hope I am wrong.  Dan Nolan

DOD Energy in 2012 - Hope as a Method

This is a tale in two tellings.  Today we will look at where DOD ended the year and tomorrow we will look at the way ahead.

As the crystal ball descends in Times Square, it is time to gaze into our own crystal ball and look to the future of DoD Energy.   In Andy’s last post he covered the highlights of 2011, a year of preparation.  Lots of plans written, organizations organized, staff hired and ducks arranged linearly. Last year I observed that DOD would have to do the following:
  “Based upon previous analysis, DOD needs to reduce its installation energy use by about 6,300 billion BTUs (BBTUs) every year to make the 2013 goal. It will have to add about 1.5% of its total energy use every year in order to reach the 2015 goal. “
We will have to wait until about August of 2012 to find out if they made it. The updated DoD Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, FY 2011, released in December 2011 provides a good picture of what happened in 2010 and what needs (needed) to happen in 2011.   The original plan was published August 2010 and, by law, was to have been updated within 180 days.  Specifically, SEC. 842, of the 2011 NDAA required that
“not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the status of the achievement by the Department of Defense of the objectives and goals on the procurement of sustainable products and services established by section 2(h) of Executive Order No. 13514”.
 The 2011 NDAA was signed in December 2010 so 180 days was in June 2011, but since the document has neither signature nor date,  it is difficult to know if it was submitted on time, but the fact that “FINAL_OCT11” is in the document title, I kind of doubt it.  The report echoed the info in the DOD AEMR FY2010 report. 

If you wade through the 115 pages you will find a trove of statics, achievements and accolades to include these:
  • The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) established the Navy Shore Energy Building Standard, which establishes energy and sustainability standards for new construction and major renovation building projects as well as existing buildings and routine maintenance.
  •  The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) issued a bases to battlefield energy and water strategy in February 2011, The Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Strategy and Implementation Plan.
  •  The Army has issued three sustainability policy memos since July 2010, on the Utilization of Efficient Lighting, Managing Stormwater with Low Impact Development, and Sustainable Design and Development. In October 2010, the Army also issued updated implementation guidance for reauditing and re-declaration of its Environmental Management Systems. The Army issued an updated Army Green Procurement Guide and supporting educational briefings and tools in December 2010.
  • Air Force Instruction 32-1021, Planning and Programming Military Construction (MILCON) Projects was substantially revised in June 2010, including a requirement for all eligible MILCON projects to achieve a minimum of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification and incorporate the November 2010 Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) on Low Impact Development, into project designs.
  • DLA issued an update in May 2011 to its Sustainable Design and Development Policy in the form of a policy memorandum titled Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Sustainability and Energy Efficiency Policy. The document lays out requirements for sustainable design and development in all DLA MILCON projects and Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization projects, plus all minor construction projects that exceed 25% of the current replacement value.
  • The Department of the Navy (DON), DLA and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) issued policies in FY 2010 to reduce the use of printing paper.

Six highlights, all paper.  Except for the last one; I am sure that was issued electronically.  I think the fact that the Marines actually put an energy good idea into the acquisition system was the winner of the year. 

The comprehensive sustainability plan has four objectives and eight supporting goals.   Goals #1, 3 and 4 pertain to energy. 

The three key sub goals under goal #1 provide the best metrics for determine if DOD is serious about this, or just phoning it in.

o     Goal #1: The Use of Fossil Fuels Reduced
             1.1 - Energy Intensity of Facilities Reduced  by 30% from FY 2003 by FY 2015 and 37.5% by FY 2020.  (2011 Goal = 18%; 2012 Goal = 21%; 2010 Attainment = 11.4%)
             1.2 - By FY 2020, Produce or Procure Energy from Renewable Sources in an Amount that Represents at Least 20% of Electricity Consumed by Facilities (2011 Goal = 11%; 2012 Goal = 12% 2010 Attainment = 9.6%)
             1.3 - Use of Petroleum Products by Vehicle Fleets Reduced 30% from FY 2005 by FY 2020 (2011 Goal = 12%; 2012 Goal = 14% 2010 Attainment = 5.3%)
o   Goal #3: GHG Emissions from Scope 1 and 2 Sources Reduced 34% by FY 2020, Relative to FY 2008 (No sub goals)
o     Goal #4: GHG Emissions from Scope 3 Sources Reduced 13.5% by FY 2020, Relative to FY 2008
             4.1 - Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Employee Air Travel Reduced 7% from FY 2011 by FY 2020 (2011 Goal = 0%; 2012 Goal = 0% 2010 Attainment = n/a)
             4.2 - 30% of Eligible Employees Teleworking at Least Once a Week, on a Regular, Recurring Basis, by FY 2020 (2011 Goal = 10%; 2012 Goal = 15%; 2010 Attainment = n/a)

Assuming that the mandates are what DOD is actually attempting to meet, the 2012 bottom line for energy is a reduction in intensity and an increase renewable energy use (or procurement).  The numbers are very straightforward.  DOD must have reduced intensity by 6.4%  in 2011 and then drop an additional 3% in 2012 to get on target.  In order for DOD to meet the mandates to have produced or procured energy from renewable sources, they  must have increased production (or procurement) by 1.4% in 2011 and then pick up an additional 1% in 2012. 

Given that 2011 was the year of paper and that the Iraq drawdown increased populations at bases, I am not sanguine that those numbers are on track, making the goals for 2012 even more difficult to achieve.  So, what will happen in 2012?  More to follow tomorrow.  Dan Nolan