Monday, February 27, 2012

Testing, 1, 2, 3, Test: USACE Does Temperature Check of Industry

Late Friday afternoon the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force sent out an all points bulletin on a "Draft Solicitation for Renewable and Alternative Energy Power Production".  They pointed out that this was really an Army Corps of Engineers deal, but the AEITF is sounding the trumpet. In their roll out meeting last year, the AEITF promised movement early this year.  So far so good. But this is not the solicitation.  It is an invitation to comment on a  solicitation.
 The press release says,
The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, has issued a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for $7 billion in shared capacity contracts to procure reliable, locally generated, renewable and alternative energy through power purchase agreements or other contractual equivalents.  The $7 billion capacity would be expended for the purchase of energy over a period of 30 years or less from renewable energy plants that are constructed and operated by contractors using private sector financing.
The draft is available here.  A synopsis of the 92 page draft solicitation.....would certainly be worth reading.  Once you do take the time to read and digest this (potentially) $7 Billion offering you have to go to another site called ProjNet to enter your comments and recommendations.

This is not a novel approach, but it does demonstrate a willingness to take input.  You have 30 days to respond and then it is up to the USACE contract specialist in Huntsville.
“The final RFP, when issued, may vary from this draft,” said Tonju Butler, the procuring contracting officer with the Huntsville Center. 
If it doesn't vary from the draft, then we will know something entirely different.  Please feel free to submit your suggestions as comments to this post and then we can look for them in the final.

Did I mention that the government is looking for 30 year PPAs???   The winner(s) of this contract will have a 30 year PPA with the Government or local utility as appropriate.  I was going to start buying gold, but this is a better bet.  A long term, assured cash flow arrangement like this is a dream deal for industry.  The only thing that could screw it up is government intransigence or  utility bureaucracy.  But what is the chance of that?  Dan Nolan

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Red Headed Rabble Rouser Rocks the Boat: Anderson at the Tactical (and Tasteful) Edge

This week the Association of the United States Army held their Winter Symposium in south Florida.  Yes, Florida!  Way to go AUSA!  Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was invited by senior leadership from AUSA to moderate a panel on operational energy.  I immediately agreed and started packing my sunscreen.  A couple of days later I got a call from a more senior AUSA member of leadership to disinvite me to moderate, although they did offer to pay my cover charge if I came anyway.  When I agreed to moderate, I took on the expense of travel, hotels, etc., because I felt it was important.  When the gentleman called to waive me off, he explained it was because the senior member of the panel decide he did not want a moderator.  Interestingly, it will be the only panel that will not have a moderator.  I was assured it had nothing to do with my, sometime, contrary opinions in this page and it was a personal decision on the part of the senior officer on the panel. The gentleman that disinvited me did not have to make that personal call; he could have left it to other folks farther down the food chain.  But as I said, he is a gentleman.  I believe his assurances that it had nothing to do with my opinions.

Often, at the various energy conferences hosted by or including DOD, the group essentially sits around and sings Kumbaya.  Only rarely will someone with a known contrarian view be invited and asked to speak at these events.  Last week in Arizona, the REF broke these rules.  At their NetZero at the Tactical Edge Conference they invited BG(R) Steve Anderson to present.  Steve was one of the first senior officers in uniform to recognize the vulnerabilities associated with the profligate use of energy in theater.  As Petraus' Loggie, Anderson set about finding solutions for energy security in Iraq.  Since retiring, he has crisscrossed the Nation sounding the tocsin for operational energy security, speaking, writing and appearing on TV to get DOD to move faster in implementing energy conservation measures that could save lives in theater.  He has been a relentless critic of DOD leadership and he did not disappoint.

When Sharon Burke finished her presentation, Steve's hand shot up in the air.  Once of the folks from the REF ran over and asked him to be nice; not a good move.  Steve asked Ms. Burke how DOD could claim that energy was a priority when the new SECDEF failed to include it in his list of priorities?  Ms. Burke provided a diplomatic answer if not a very informative one. As I attempted to slide at least one seat away from Steve (never share a foxhole with anyone braver than you are) I could sense the room's displeasure at the question. "How could he treat the Army's honored guest this way?" seemed to be the question on everyone's mind.  The fact is, although it was an unpleasant question to ask, it was not unfair. 
On the final day, BG(R) Anderson got up to speak and harangued the largely Army crowd with DOD's failure to act with alacrity in securing operational energy.  The Army folks looked around and said, "Wait, we work for the Army and we are moving out smartly."  The criticism of DOD, although accurate was misplaced and the crowd did get a bit sulky.  Again, the criticism was not unfair, just poorly targeted. 

The fact remains, the REF did something brave by bringing in a known, contrary view.  One of the things I always tell any staff on which I work or works for me is, "If all of us are thinking the same way, some of us are not necessary."  We need to encourage and listen to the dissident voices out there.  Disagreement is not disrespect.   Of course, we need to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.  Dan Nolan

Monday, February 20, 2012

Net Zero Conference Part 2: A Guided Tour Down the Rabbit Hole

Make sure you packed a lunch before you start this post.  Follow me down the rabbit hole and, hurry.  We are already late!

A veritable alphabet soup of acronyms and agencies were represented at the “Net Zero to the Tactical Edge” conference at Arizona State University this week.  My goal in this post is to toss out the bread crumbs that might possibly lead business along the path to find the holy grail of the defense industry: adoption as a (fanfare of trumpets)  “Program of Record” .

Before I go through the litany, here is a quick program reminder.  There are two sides to the Army: Civilian and Military.  The Secretary of the Army is over all in charge and civilian leadership reports to him.  The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASA, ALT) reports to the Sec Army.  ASA, ALT’s job is to turn requirements in to things for the Army.    On the uniformed side, the Chief of Staff (CSA) of the Army is the senior soldier in the Army, but not a commander.  The Deputy Chiefs of Staff for Operations is the G3 and the DCS, Logistics is the G4 and they report to the CSA.  The Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is responsible for translating warfighter needs into requirements documents that allow the acquisition world to program money in order to buy stuff to meet the requirements. TRADOC reports to CSA.  Questions?

The various groups who presented represented each of these three constituencies.   The key groups were the REF, LIA, TRADOC, BMC, and Program Managers for the following areas: Mobile Electric Power, Soldier and Force Sustainment Systems.  All the presentations are here.   Here are the players.

1.       REF – Rapid Equipping Force working for the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (G3), reports to Vice Chief of Staff, Army
a.       Finding technology solutions to commanders’ immediate battlefield needs. The REF does not have a public facing website so they can only be reached when they come out of their burrows to see if there will be 6 more weeks of winter. Will keep you posted.
b.      Interests: Any system not already under consideration.

2.       LIA – Logistics Innovative Agency, a Field Operating Agency of the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (G4)
a.       LIA's mission is to continually examine the Army's logistics capabilities, and find ways that might make it more effective and/or efficient.  LIA identifies logistics solutions that address emerging and future needs. They also have the operational energy portfolio.   If you have an energy good idea, send it to .  They will point you in the right direction.
b.      Interests: Any system not already under consideration.

3.       NIE/BMC - Network Integration Experimentation is a program under the Brigade Modernization Command.  BMC works for the Army Capabilities Integration Center which is part of TRADOC.  The BMC works closely with System of Systems Integration (SoSI) Directorate which is part of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
a.       The NIE is the first in a series of semi-annual evaluations designed to integrate and mature the Army’s tactical network and is a key element of the Army’s emerging Network Strategy.
b.      On 11 Jan, 2012, the U.S. Army, through the System of Systems Integration (SoSI) Directorate, announced that it is seeking interested industry and government sources with mature solutions to enhance existing network systems capabilities to participate in the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 13.1 event, scheduled to occur in Oct/Nov 2012 at Fort Bliss, Texas and White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), N.M. The NIE is a series of semi-annual evaluations designed to further integrate and mature the Army’s tactical network, and accelerate and improve the way network technologies are delivered to Soldiers.
c.       The purpose of this Sources Sought notice is to identify emerging capabilities to be evaluated against a set of entrance criteria for an opportunity to participate in NIE 13.1. This Sources Sought seeks solutions with a narrow focus
d.      Interests: Any system not already under consideration.

4.       TCM, Soldier Warrior – TRADOC Capabilities Manager, Fort Benning, GA
a.       TCM-Soldier provides intensive system management of everything worn, consumed or carried for individual Soldier use in a tactical environment to maximize lethality, command and control, survivability, sustainment, and mobility, and training.
b.      Interests:  Soldier Power.

5.       AEWE – Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment  run by Maneuver Battle Lab, Fort Benning GA, TRADOC
a.       TRADOC’s AEWE provides capability developers, the science and technology community and industry a repeatable, credible, rigorous and validated operational experiment venue to assess possible solutions for capability gaps in concepts and materiel development efforts.  AEWE is focused on the Squad and soldier capability.
b.      Interests:  Soldier Power.

6.       CBITEC -  Contingency Basing Integration Technology Evaluation Center  - Army G4 Logistics Innovation Agency and Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) in Champaign, IL.
a.       Army G4 Logistics Innovation Agency provided funding to USACE (CERL and Kansas City District) to design, construct and operate a full scale contingency base at Fort Leonard Wood, MO to conduct demonstration, assessment and evaluation of contingency basing capabilities and technologies (power, environmental, sustainable construction,  force protection) that support Army requirements and future acquisition decisions. This facility will also provide a training venue to military units and Engineer School students to learn sustainable base operations. CERL supports the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence by preparing a CBITEC master plan, technology evaluation plan, and providing a project manager, to be located at FLW, for the longterm operation of the facility.
b.      Interests:  Basing Power.

7.       PM-MEP – Project Manager, Mobile Electric Power (PM-MEP)
a.       PM-MEP’s mission is to provide standardized tactical electric power and environmental control capabilities to the Department of Defense in support of National Security.  For the Acquisition community, PM-MEP provides modernized, technologically advanced, tactical, diesel fueled, lightweight, portable, reliable, rugged, power generating systems in a variety of sizes from 2 kilowatts (kW) to 840 kW. They also are responsible for power distribution hardware.  They will be the ultimate arbiter of energy systems for adoption by all of DOD.
b.      Interests: Acquiring products as required by TRADOC. 2kW and larger.

8.       BCIL – The Base Camp Integration Lab, operated by PM, Force Sustainment Systems in Fort Devens, MA.  The BCIL works for Acquisition Corps.
a.       The 10-acre BCIL features a pair of Force Provider 150-person Expeditionary Base Camp modules modeled after forward operating bases in Afghanistan. One module is designated as the baseline control module set in the current configuration. The other module is designated as the new technologies test bed in an operational environment. Service members training at Ft. Devens will occupy the BCIL’s base camp, allowing for the integration and evaluation of immediate and future integrated expeditionary CB solutions in a realistic environment. The BCIL will provide data to substantiate and support all aspects (technologies, training, installation, maintenance, etc.) for the rapid fielding of solution sets integrated into currently deployed, developmental, and future expeditionary force sustainment and basing solutions.
b.      In order to participate in the process, vendors must first find a government partner who can access the BCIL website to download the application that the vendor then submits.  Really?  So now I have to do business development twice?  And does it have to be someone in the acquisition community that sponsors me or can I go find a buddy in the Department of Education to download the forms.   Typically, when I see something that appears to be stupid, I assume I don’t understand it and then go to school to educate myself.  If, after I do that, it still appears stupid, it is probably stupid. I am still studying this one.

I appreciate how byzantine this all appears, but I assure you it is light years ahead of the situation that existed five years ago when there was little or no energy related cross talk.   In my one on one meeting with the REF, I complained loudly (if tongue in cheek), that they were putting me out of the business of helping people understand this system.  Looking back over this, I am not changing my business model anytime soon!  Dan Nolan

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Signs of the Apocalypse: Operations, Training, and ACQ on same page in AZ

I have just returned from Phoenix,  Arizona where I believe I was witness to a portend of biblical proportions, “Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria!” (Thank you, Dr. Venkman).   In an auditorium of a satellite campus of Arizona State University, I observed a Colonel of Operations, who actually knew the first name of a Colonel of Acquisition!  Those of you who understand the previously chasm between operations, training and doctrine, and the acquisition community will appreciate the implications of this sea change.  Where previously these two communities threw things over the wall to each other, it now appears that they are executing Manning –like (Eli, not Peyton) handoffs. Perhaps rapid equipping has come of age. This hastily arranged, low cost meeting, not without its warts, set the standard for energy conferences. 

The Army, Academia, and Industry gathered to conduct a series of briefings on processes and technologies.  The doyenne of operational energy, Sharon Burke, opened the conference entitled, “Net Zero at the Tactical Edge”.  Despite being harangued for not getting her Operational Energy implementation plan out in a timely manner and for failing to get the new SecDef to include energy in his priorities, she set a positive tone for the conference.  Anybody who can reference Jane Austen and Carl von Clausewitz in the same sentence gets a little latitude.  In her defense, the relatively new SecDef may not get it ... yet. 

The hand on the tiller for this ship was the director of the Rapid Equipping Force, Colonel Pete Newell.  I interviewed Newell previously about the role of the REF in operational energy.   Newell looks and sounds like a warfighter and he understands the complexity of the Requirements and Acquisition processes.  His take is that OE is nothing special, just another challenge commanders face on the battlefield and that it is his organization’s mission:  to find the technology solutions.  What is different is his recognition of the need to bring together the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and the Program Managers so that requirements can be expedited and the PMs can satisfy those requirements. This is the path to long term, secure OE.   

The team is together, but TRADOC has yet to produce the Capability Development Document necessary for the PMs to begin their acquisition process.   This is still on the shoulders of the Army Capabilities Integration Center (sorry to classmate, Keith), Combat Arms Support Command (CASCOM) and TRADOC Capabilities Manager, Soldier.  These organizations are responsible for describing the requirements for operational energy from the individual soldier to the Forward Operating Base level. 

The speakers' materials were superb, although they all prepared PC PowerPoint briefings that were butchered by the Macintosh computer used to display them.   The information they provided on the four different venues and four different processes for bringing technologies into the Army’s experimentation effort was a bit mind numbing.   I challenged COL Newell on this, and, in a surprisingly glass half full way, he pointed out that they should be thought of as four paths to success.  The REF’s Bill Garland promised to publish a simple document helping industry understand what path would suit them best.  Will let you know when and where that is available.

The best aspect of the conference was the fifteen minute meetings that industry could schedule with program managers and the REF.  The chance to sit down one on one and present technologies and receive advice in a small, dare I say, intimate setting was unparalleled.   More on this, the pathways, and advice to conference hosts in the next post.  Dan Nolan

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Basic Bond of Leadership: Trusting DOD with Energy Security

“Trust is the basic bond of leadership.” General (R) Frederick M. Franks, Jr.  For those of you who don’t know “Franks, the Greater”, a nickname given by General (R) Tommy Franks, read Tom Clancy’s book, written with Fred Franks, “Into the Storm”.  He is also featured in “It Starts with Humility”  , by Dr. Merwyn Hayes.He is one of America’s greatest military heroes, the architect of the Desert Storm's 100 hour war (sorry, General Schwartzkopf) and the most inspiring leader I ever met.  I worked directly for GEN Franks for three years at VII Corps and when he commanded Training and Doctrine Command.  His emphasis on trust as the keystone of leadership was driven by his deep belief in values as the bedrock of any organization.  Shared values engenders trust.  Trust inspires the joint pursuit of a well articulated vision and shared vision leads to ultimate success. With out it, the people perish. 

So what?  The so what is that the American public has lost faith in the government's ability to get things done, specifically, the creation of a shared vision for an energy policy.  But, apparently, the current administration took heed of the last several polls on “Confidence in Institution” by Gallup.  The U.S. Military has been the most trusted institution in America for years. That trust may now be transformed into leadership in the energy sector.  After the disaster that was Solyndra, the Administration is looking for someone to lead us out of the wilderness of, not a failed energy policy, but no energy policy.  Where other budgets are shrinking, the energy budget for DOD may be expanding. 

When the President (7th on the trust list) roles out his 2013 budget this week, it is expected that funding for DOD energy programs will be plused up.  A dysfunctional Congress (dead last on the trust list) who would be unlikely to support funding for DOE programs, will back DOD running with the ball.  Republicans appear to be lining up behind the idea already.  As quoted in the article:

“I do expect to see the spending,” said Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, when asked about increased investment in alternative-energy programs at the Pentagon. “I think in the past three to five years this has been going on, but that it has grown as a culture and a practice – and it’s a good thing.  If Israel attacks Iran, and we have to go to war – and the Straits of Hormuz are closed for a week or a month and the price of fuel is going to be high, the question is, in the military, what do you replace it with? It’s not something you just do for the ozone. It’s strategic.” 

This is very encouraging.  The President, Congress and the American people trust DOD to get it done.  Republicans see it as a strategic move for energy security.  Democrats see it as backing a proven track record to develop a nascent industry.  Wouldn’t it be a great thing to have agreement on a single issue?  Trust is the basic bond of leadership and leadership in energy is what the country needs.  An American energy industry (not just oil companies) could be the driving force behind the economy that information technology once was, an industry sparked to life by DOD needs.   Why DOD would do this is simple and straight forward.  It is about energy security that has tactical, operational and strategic relevance.  That it will have a positive effect on the economy, that grid security could improve and that climate change may be beneficially affected are merely bonus effects.  Trust me. Coach, put DOD in; halftime is over.   Dan Nolan  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Big Coalition Jumping on Energy Efficiency (EE) Bandwagon ... how about DOD?

Jesse Berst's site recently featured a short article announcing the formation of SPEER (which stands for South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource), as well as outlining its objectives, which include initially:
Concentrating on energy efficiency training and education programs and on coordinating energy efficiency codes, programs and standards.
You may find a lot that's useful on SPEER's resources page, HERE, including a document I really like the looks of, a guide for baselining energy efficiency programs at utilities that I think offers a lot for installations as well.

Dan's more up to speed on current EE policy and actions in the Department, but I feel like  high profile renewables projects and alt fuels initiatives are getting the lion's share of attention.

On the other hand, EE is the less glamorous but often biggest-bang-for-the-buck counterpart to all attempts to improve operational and facilities energy security, and I'd want to make sure I'd exhausted all my low hanging and mid hanging fruit EE opportunities before I started allocating the larger dollars for solar, wind, alt fuels, etc.

Before I sign off, please note that one person shining a steady light on EE opportunities on the operational side of the equation is Sharon Burke, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs, and you can see some of her recent comments and links on her active Facebook page HERE.

Kudos for leveraging social media, a most energy efficient means for getting the word out. Andy Bochman

Friday, February 3, 2012

Shysters, Bozos and Making it So: Tactical Power Conference Review

A month into the New Year and DOD has hosted two energy conferences with many more on the horizon.  Couple of weeks ago, the Army hosted a Net Zero Installation conference in Chicago.  Last week I arrived in D.C. (in the snow) for the IDGA Tactical Power Sources Summit (TPSS).   On behalf of the state of Florida, I would respectfully remind you conference planners that it is ok to avoid misery in winter weather.  Orlando, Tampa and Miami are open for business.  I appreciate that constrained budgets make travel for government folks difficult.  I assume that is why the Program Manager for Mobile Electric Power (PM-MEP) decided not to drive up from Belvoir to Alexandria for the Tactical Power Summit.  At least I hope that was the reason.

The three day TPSS started with an industry focus day.  The highlight of that day was the presentation by Mike Bergey of Bergey Windpower.  Bergey has been in the small wind business for over thirty five years and has seen them come and go.  Part of his presentation was about the kind of folks one finds in the energy industry.  Usually you will be dealing with the good, honest people who believe in their product and the benefits it will bring their customers.  But there are also Bozos and Shysters.  The Bozos are “Clueless on physics and engineering - don’t know what they don’t know”.   Well intended, but generally unaware that their sales claims are so much hot air.  The Shyster, on the other hand, is “ Aware that their claims are bogus and don’t care”.  They depend on the general public wanting to believe that there’s been a performance or cost breakthrough or that the laws of physics have been suspended for this product.  One technique is to state a physical property of all reputable products in a given line as a unique attribute of their systems.  Mike’s favorite in the small wind industry is to refer to a system as “bird friendly”.  All small wind systems are “bird friendly”, but the Shyster will claim that moniker as their own special attribute.  These traits are not limited to the wind industry. 

The rest of the conference featured an array of government technical folks, mostly from the Navy and Marine Corps.  One of the successes touted by the PM, Expeditionary Power, Mike Gallagher and by the Deputy Director of the Marine Expeditionary Energy Office, Gayle von Eckartsberg, was a program called
Ground Renewable Expeditionary Energy System (GREENS).  GREENS was the system developed out of an ExFOB charette that was taken to Afghanistan by India Company, 3/5 Marines.  It was so successful that the Commandant directed that it be turned into a program of record and issued, as appropriate, to the rest of the Corps.  From experimental systems in January 2011 to program of record in November 2011 has to be some kind of a record.  In contrast, the Army announced that the ICD written  in 2010 could be approved in the next 30 days.  This means that sometime this year, the Army might have a CDD which could provide the requirements that the Acquisition community requires to actually produce systems. 

I asked Gayle V and Mike Gallagher how they pulled off the astounding feat of transitioning GREENS so fast.  I got an immediate response. The short answer was that GREENS was in Mike’s acquisition pipeline previously and was accelerated by an Urgent Statement of Need (USON) received in May 2011.  “Having already been designated as an Abbreviated Acquisition Program, program efforts and documentation had already been tailored.  The USON effectively just compressed what should have been a 24 month period to a six month period of time to get systems into theater.  All programmatic efforts, documentation, and reviews required still had to take place, but on a much compressed timeline”.  Lots of hard works was required to do things like reprogram funds in the year of execution, accelerate tests, verify equipment status and a thousand other details necessary.  As Mike Gallagher noted, “Working them all in parallel, vice serial execution and review, was truly awe-inspiring.” Guess it helps when the Commandant says, “Make it so”. 

 If the acquisition world recognizes where the operational world is going, they can get a jump on meeting urgent needs swiftly.  You can wait on a Requirement for JCIDS or meet the need.   I hope DOD is encouraging that kind of risk taking in this current, rarified budgetary atmosphere.

One final point for the folks that hold these conferences.  If you are going to charge hundreds of dollars to vendors to attend, you need to make sure the right players are there and the right topics are discussed.  At the Net Zero Installation conference in Chicago, the tract on energy conservation was eliminated.  Really? The key to energy security is reducing requirements and they drop that?  At the TPSS, focused on Operational Energy, there was no one from Sharon Burke’s office, no one from PM, MEP and no one from the Rapid Equipping Force.   Those are enormous gaps.  The excuse for having these things in DC is to make it cheaper for the Government to attend.  And in most of the offices I just mentioned, a third stringer is fine (in fact usually better than their heavily scripted bosses).  Oh, by the way.  The REF and Arizona State are hosting a “Net Zero at the Tactical Edge Conference” next month.  Details are here.   Asst. Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs, REF Director, PM-MEP and Logistics Innovation Agency will all attend and present.  And it’s only a hundred bucks!  See you there.  Dan Nolan