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