Monday, November 17, 2014

Energy Security Postscript and Next Chapter

Cross-posted from the Smart Grid Security Blog

Long-time readers of the SGSB might have wondered if they'd ever see another post. Me too. After producing an average of 1+ posts per week since its inception 5 years ago, I cut way back after leaving IBM in 2013 to give myself more time to focus on consulting. And now there's a new development to report.

4 month ago I shuttered my security strategy business and began my first day on the job at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). It's one of the Department of Energy's national labs, and it's the one most squarely positioned at the intersection of energy infrastructure and national security. Let's call that energy security.

My INL title: Senior Cyber & Energy Security Strategist - may sound a little pretentious, but it pretty accurately captures what I was hired to do. If you visit the lab's home page or the INL Twitter feed it seems like nuclear energy research and related nuclear work are its dominant activities. But while nuclear energy research and fuels fabrication were its origin in the 1940's and its historic mission, with the help of its massive and remote test range that includes grid-scale transmission, distribution and communications assets, the lab I just joined does a ton of research and applied work on power and industrial control systems, Smart Grid and wireless communications, cyber and physical security and resilience, renewables, microgrids, energy storage and more.

Nuclear energy R&D, and full nuclear fuel lifecycle work (including non proliferation) will always be a significant part of that nation's requirements, and the INL mission, but nuclear energy is arguably the most reliable portion of our non fossil fuel baseload, but INL is quietly becoming something much more - and more important - than its nuclear legacy might suggest.

Without going into too much detail, the lab's customers now include not just DOE's nuclear energy organizations, but also DOE's renewables, resilience and cyber-physical security components too. DHS has become a major customer, as the lab hosts the ICS-CERT cyber security overwatch function for the US grid and other critical infrastructures, and performs other leading edge cyber and physical security roles as well. DoD is a very large customer too, for energy, security and communications test functions, rounded out by direct work with utilities and energy and telecom technology suppliers.

In short, INL in 2014 is not the lab many people think it is. While it's yet to update its image online, a visit to Idaho Falls quickly confirms that this is one of the nation's preeminent Energy Security lab resources. Nuclear energy is and likely always will be a key element, but without making much noise about it, INL has become so much more, and I'm very very lucky to be a part of it.


Postscript to the Postscript post: Though my blogs are in suspended animation, I continue to speak in public, and albeit more frequently and tersely, on Twitter @andybochman. As the Twitter profile reveals, I continue to work out of my home office in Boston while hitting the road most often for DC, and of course, now, Idaho.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Window Closing to Apply for Outanding DOD Energy Position

Maybe you got it too, but in case you didn't, this is just in from Ollie Fritz:

There is a civilian job opportunity on the OEPP Policy team that I wanted to share with the defense energy community.

Duties for this position include:
  • Develops and adapts and/or oversees policies and governance for the implementation of the Department of Defense (DoD) Operational Energy Strategy.
  • Leads task groups that convene Defense Components to assess operational energy challenges, develop Department wide recommendations and findings and synchronize policies.
  • Oversees policy and analyses regarding the role of energy in Combatant Command (CCMD) and Department security and international partnerships.
  • Coordinates with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military Departments, CCMDs, and as needed foreign military organizations in support of exercises, technical cooperation, information sharing and bilateral/multilateral engagements related to energy.
  • Assists in the development and preparation of materials (posture statements, testimony and backup material) for use by senior DoD leadership in the presentations to Congress, Congressional Committees, Congressional Budget Office, and other external organizations.
You can find more details here: The position is open to all US citizens and current Status candidates, and applications are due by 11:59PM on Friday, 11 July.
If you have a good background for this, and you think you could make a difference, and you have a burning desire to make a difference, then you'd better throw your name in the hat ... and fast.  Opportunities like this don't come around very often !!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Energy Storage for DOD & IC Energy Security

Try not to get greedy, but it looks like legendary but MIA DOD Energy blogger Dan Nolan has just emerged and offered up a tapas-sized post. Let's see how he does:

One of the nation’s mission critical facilities is going green or at least getting more energy secure. DOD has deployed 1.6MW of solid oxide fuel cells in support of undisclosed NSA facilities at Fort Meade, MD. The system, supplied by Bloom Energy and installed by ARGO Systems, a Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), was announced yesterday. You can read the press release here.

In watching fuel cell development over the past decade, I was always told they were 5 years away, and had been for the last 15! Apparently, someone was able to figure out the value of energy security that is provided by a sustainable, reliable, and secure power generation system. I guess if you are running the servers that are processing EVERYTHING (according to Glenn Greenwald) maintaining energy security is important. As much battering as the good folks at the NSA have been taking, let me be the first to say, “Way to Go, Green!” - Dan Nolan

Friday, April 11, 2014

DOD Energy Tech Advance: NRL's Seawater-to-Fuel Alchemy

Sorry, it's been a while, but this news echoed something a Navy friend in Idaho told me earlier this week and I was compelled to post. It's not about transmutation of lead into gold, it's not water into wine, rather it's something far more important to US and DOD operational energy assurance: a process to turn seawater into fuel for ships and aerial vehicles.

Here's a blurb from DOD's science blog (bet you didn't know DOD had a science blog):
The potential payoff, according to the Navy, is the ability to produce fuel stock at sea or in remote locations. Aside from being convenient – utilizing resources around you for an immediate need is a benefit that speaks for itself – this will reduce the logistics tail on fuel delivery with no environmental burden. This also increases the Navy’s energy security and independence.
Vice Admiral Phil Cullom, no stranger to the DOD Energy Blog comments on what drives research like this:
We need to reinvent how we create energy, how we value energy and how we consume energy.
Seems to me the NRL researchers are turning Cullom's aspirational words into a near-term reality.  Great stuff. You can read the full post, including videos, HERE.

Image credit: "The Alchemist" by David Teniers the Younger on

Monday, March 24, 2014

Remembering DOD Energy Pioneer Steve Siegel

Scott Sklar shared a sad update with me this weekend on the untimely passing of his friend and DOD Energy colleague, Stephen Siegel:
For the last 15 years I have worked very closely with my friend and colleague Steve Siegel who worked for the Army Analysis Center and then had his own firm, the Energy & Security Group, run with his wife Judy. 
Steve was a colleague for our early education seminar series we held for five years at National Defense University on renewable energy for senior military leaders. And Steve and I developed a renewable energy curricula aide for the DOD service academies and war colleges on how best to integrate the newer energy technologies into the DOE fabric of solutions. 
Steve passed away in his sleep this week. The reasons are not yet known. As one senior OSD official just e-mailed me, “Steve was one of the pioneers in developing methods and tools to quantify the cost of delivering fuel to forward locations and he used his network to help socialize the use of these tools within the Army.” 
As we all know, life is fragile. He was an important thought leader in integrating renewable and distributed energy options to meet the DOD mission. I will sure miss him.
Thank you Scott. This blog has been following and lauding Steve's work since 2009, including a post that said, "Google for 'Steve Siegel' and FBCF (fully burdened cost of fuel) and you get a FBCF goldmine."

And thank you Steve, for all you did to advance our thinking over the years on these critical energy and security topics. ab

Friday, March 21, 2014

SPIDERS Secure Microgrid Industry Show & Tell Coming Up

Army energy wizard and acting branch chief Harold Sanborn, who's had his hands on SPIDERS since day one, will be there. So will my fellow Zoomie Stuart McCafferty, CEO of GridIntellect, who's been sharing his vast microgrid expertise recently on I'd also expect engineers from Burns McDonnell, who've been integral to SPIDERS success, to be in attendance.

Here are the basics for you:

It's called, somewhat verbosely: "The Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) Industry Day"

22 April 2014, 0800-1330


Fort Carson McMahon Theater
1517 McDonald Ave
Fort Carson, CO (south side of Colorado Springs)

Official Description:

Hosted by the U.S. Northern Command, JCTD Industry Day will focus on sharing the lessons learned and results of the Phase 2 Operational Demonstration performed at Fort Carson with the public sector and partner agencies.

This event is open to all stakeholders with an interest in the development of secure microgrids, ranging from policy and regulatory bodies and equipment vendors to those tasked with the development of standards and specifications and utilities that will be interconnecting with these microgrids.

  • SPIDERS Technical Report
  • V2G solutions and technical and acquisition evolution from Phase 1
  • Microgid Cyber Security: Critical Elements, Requirements and Controls
  • Transitioning SPIDERS JCTD to Industry and Military
  • Cyber Experimentation Report
  • Phase 3 & Future Plans Post-SPIDERS JCTD
  • Tours of Ft. Carson Microgrid while under Red Team Cyber Attack
Link for More Info and to Register

Hope you can make it. ab

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Operational Base Energy Smarts Finally Emerging - Bigtime

I few weeks ago I posted on "Hybrid Hopes for Greatly Reducing Operational Base Fuel Requirements"

Since then, two more things have come my way.  One was a note from DOD Energy friend and guru Scott Sklar of the DC-based Stella Group, who wrote thusly: 
I asked energy integrator MILSPRAY to bring the unit (mentioned in the post above) to Arlington two weeks ago for the military folks from the different services to 'kick the tires'.  This unit powered the corrosion facility (MCRF) in Quantico, VA from July - October (14 weeks) last year and the fuel savings versus a standard generator was 78.6% (wow), and the the same set-up at 29 Palms, CA. I am beginning to see better-engineered systems that can stand-alone or interact with on-site diesel generators seamlessly.
This is heavy duty news coming from Scott.

Also just received the DOE's Smart and Green Energy (SAGE) for Basecamps final report and it aligns quite nicely with the observations from the previous post. You can read the full document HERE, but just below you'll find the most important bits in summary form.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hybrid Hopes for Greatly Reducing Operational Base Fuel Requirements

Sounds like a microgrid disguised as a generator.  See what you think:
Today, the U.S. military powers its operating bases with diesel generators that run continuously. The problem is that it’s difficult to match the generating capacity with the actual power load from air conditioners, electronics, and other gear, which fluctuates during the day and in different seasons. And when the demand for power is lower than the generator’s full capacity, the fuel efficiency drops off dramatically and the maintenance increases.
Earl Energy’s FlexGen “hybrid generator” is wired to a diesel generator running at full capacity, which is how it's most efficient. When there is excess power, the diesel generator charges the batteries. If the batteries have enough stored energy to meet the demand for electricity, then the generator shuts off. In tests in Afghanistan, the Earl Energy system allowed the generators to run three to six hours a day, compared with around the clock before it was installed, says Doug Moorehead, the CEO of Earl Energy.
Often in stories like these there's a rub.  But if those real-world results from Afghanistan were achieved without any many compromises, then this is clearly a big win in an area we've made almost no progress for decades.  Will be keeping an eye on Moorehead and Earl Energy for sure.

Full IEEE Spectrum article: HERE.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Announcing a Blogging Slowdown as a New Energy and Security Business is Born

Dear Reader,

You may have noticed the number of posts has tapered off lately on the DOD Energy Blog. I've got to tell you that it's not from lack of interest or diminished activity in our space ... far from it.

Rather, since I departed IBM last September I've been working overtime putting my consulting business together. I've now reached the point where my focus is set, my offerings are defined, and my first partners and customers have emerged.

That means the taxiing period is over and it's time to push the throttle all the way forward and lift off ... hence, less blogging here, at least for a while.

The new business is called Bochman Advisors, and as you'll see when you visit the NEW SITE I just built, it immediately identifies its focus as "Strategic security consulting for the energy sector".  So far, this is working out as helping security companies get smarter on energy matters, and energy companies do better with security.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to Make a Microgrid

I've been reading about, sometimes writing about, and occasionally extolling the many virtues of microgrids for some time now.  I even remember when, shortly after starting this blog, I was at a DOD energy gathering at NDU in 2008 or 2009 I think.

This perky bald guy in the row behind me said, kind of like in the movie The Graduate: "the future is microgrids." I could be wrong, but I believe that hairless wonder was Army O-6 and future DOD Energy Blogger Dan Nolan himself.  (I'll get my fact checker on that just in case.)

Since then we've copiously covered the SPIDERS program, as well as the great secure microgrid work at Naval District Washington.

Flash forward to yesterday when I came across Stuart McCafferty's "Top 6 Things to Consider When Developing Microgrids." The title says 6 but altogether it's more like 50 or 60 questions - born of his hands-on project management experience - you need to answer before moving forward.

Out of all of them the first two resonate the strongest with me:
Mission: What is the organization’s mission? How will a Microgrid help support the mission?
If your reasons for building a microgrid aren't directly related to supporting the mission, then what the heck are you doing?  Everyone's free to build their own microgrid after work on their own dime, but if you're building one at a DOD installation, then the connection to mission support has got to be a solid and not a dotted line.

After that the rest of the questions are about everything you need to think about beforehand to do it right.  For the full article click HERE.

And by the way, here's a piece on an early stage USMC microgrid project at Miramar Air Station in San Diego, where energy assurance is the major mission driver.

Image courtesy of National Defense Magazine

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

You're Invited to DOD "Power Surge" Energy Security Webinar

I have a one-time special good deal for you, DEB aficionados.  You are cordially invited to a briefing announcing the research findings from:

Power Surge: How the Department of Defense Leverages Private Resources to Enhance Energy Security and Save Money on U.S. Military Bases

Date: this Thursday, January 16, 2014
Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. EST
Access: Click here to log into the webinar

Event Overview:
Deployment of clean energy technologies is accelerating across military installations operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew’s new report, “Power Surge,” examines how the military is using private-sector capabilities and harnessing innovative financing to obtain advanced energy systems. These projects are helping the Pentagon enhance mission assurance, save money, and meet congressional and executive branch requirements. The briefing will review the military’s progress on meetings its renewable energy and efficiency goals and how it’s funding the initiatives. The report will be available online starting 16 Jan 2014 at
  • Phyllis Cuttino, director, clean energy program, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary for the Army, energy and installations
  • Scott Provinse, director of government programs, Sun Edison
  • John Warner, former U.S. senator and secretary of the U.S. Navy, and senior adviser to the Pew project on national security, energy, and climate
I'll be online, and hope you can make it too!  ab

BTW, if the direct link does not work, go to and enter:
Meeting Number: 636 286 510, Password: Clean123

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

RFI Alert: USMC Tactical Energy Generation

We've posted on the great work of the Marines exFOB many times before, and I'm happy to be doing so once again to kick off 2014.

There's an RFI out for submissions on "Tactical Energy Harvesting," but rather than siphoning off watts from dormant humans encased in glass cocoons, the Marines want to leverage a fraction of the energy already generated by able bodied soldiers in motion. And there's another element related to capturing waste heat from generators.

Response due date is 21 February 2014.  I'd expect the good folks down the street from me in Natick to have some ideas up their sleeves on this, but I know there are many other sources for thinking along these lines as well.

For more details on this solicitation click HERE.

Photo credit: