Putting energy front and center
August 30, 2010
- Last year, the Army spent $4 billion for fuel and utilities.
- Focusing on our energy programs is truly non-negotiable.
- It is the right thing to do to get our energy programs right.
ARLINGTON, Va. - In the past, energy has been a side conversation for the Army. It tended to be an area of concern for some experts and specialists, but for a lot of us, whether Soldiers and Civilians in the workplace or Family members in the community, we did not give it much thought. Maybe we paid attention to the Public Service Announcements reminding us to turn off lights, but that was about it.
However, with changing security concerns and increased demands on finite financial and natural resources, energy has become an issue we all have to pay attention to. We have to pay attention to energy now, for the sake of ourselves and the Nation and future generations. So I intend to keep the issue front and center. I intend to keep the dialogue focused on what we in the Installation Management Community must do, can do and are doing to increase the Army's energy efficiency and security.
The Army depends on a reliable, safe, cost-effective supply of energy to accomplish its mission, as well as provide a good quality of life for Soldiers, Civilians and Families on installations worldwide. To the extent that the supply and distribution of energy lay outside the Army's control, the ability to accomplish our mission is open to risk.
In January 2009, the Army issued guidance for increasing energy security, the Army Energy Security Implementation Strategy. The Installation Management Campaign Plan, the strategic document directing our actions, includes a section focused on energy efficiency and security; this section, Line of Effort (LOE) 6, was developed in support of the Army energy guidance. The keys to success for LOE 6 focus on reducing energy and water consumption, increasing energy and water efficiency, modernizing infrastructure, and developing renewable and alternative energy supplies.
Since version 1 of the Campaign Plan was released in March, we have continued to work on LOE 6, in particular refining the keys to success and developing meaningful metrics to measure our progress. Version 2 of the Campaign Plan will be released in October, which is national Energy Awareness Month. I did not plan for the two events to coincide, but it is fitting. The revised LOE 6 will show us the way ahead for achieving the energy security and efficiency that is a critical part of achieving and maintaining installation readiness.
While the Campaign Plan is the driving force in changing how we do business, the Installation Management Energy Portfolio is our toolbox. This document, which is also being revised for release in October, describes Army programs and initiatives that help installations realize their energy goals. One example is metering. Residential Communities Initiative housing on 45 Army installations are metered to measure whether the occupants of each unit are using above or below the energy usage baseline every month. Provided with the meter data, occupants have steadily reduced their energy consumption so that 80 percent now receive money back for using less than the baseline each month.
Other programs and initiatives include efforts to improve the Army's energy grid security and management, to track and offset utility costs, and to require that new military construction and renovation meet rigorous energy efficiency standards.
I have always said that vision without resources is hallucination, so the Energy Portfolio also lists a number of resource opportunities. These include Army and private programs, contracts and other vehicles through which installations can partner with private industry to gain expertise and resources to create innovative energy programs.
Finally, the Energy Portfolio highlights several projects in which installations are making creative use of all these resources to save and produce energy. These projects include a 12-acre solar power array at Fort Carson, Colo., a vegetative roof project at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania, a methane gas project at Fort Knox, Ky., the first wind turbine on an active Army installation at Tooele Army Depot in Utah, and solar walls at Fort Drum, N.Y. The revised Energy Portfolio will expand on this last section in particular, to provide ideas and inspiration to other members of the Installation Management Community.
In addition to version 2 of the Campaign Plan and the revised Energy Portfolio, in October I will also publish an energy operations order, to direct specific actions that raise the overall level of effort within the Installation Management Community.
When we look at the energy projects around our installations, we can see the Installation Management Community has made a solid start in addressing energy issues. However, when we consider those issues, we can also see how far we still have to go. Last year we spent $1.3 billion for the installation utility bill, which includes electricity, steam, water and natural gas. The Army spent $4 billion for fuel and utilities. That is a large price tag for resources we do not control and that will run out eventually.
I am looking for people who are passionate about energy issues and committed to finding innovative ways to solve the challenges. One key person is the garrison energy manager. Every garrison needs a full-time energy manager, or more than one, depending on the size of the installation, who can help leadership build a robust energy program. And every garrison needs leadership to back a robust energy plan. Leadership has to communicate that every Soldier, Civilian employee and Family member on the installation is responsible for doing his or her part.
Occasionally someone who is less-than-committed to energy efficiency says to me, in effect, "Hey, quit going on about turning off the lights." Here is an idea: turn off the lights and I will quit talking about it. When we have achieved the energy efficiencies that are possible-when we have found ways to avoid energy costs and reduced unavoidable costs and limited our use of nonrenewable resources-then we can talk about other issues, such as which Soldier and Family programs to apply the savings to.
Focusing on our energy programs is truly non-negotiable. We have to look to our programs to generate savings that will help with the Army's part of the $23 billion in efficiencies that the Secretary of Defense is requiring from all the services. We have to look to them to more securely position us to accomplish our missions, to provide an even better quality of life for Soldiers and Families, and to help address some critical environmental issues, so that we do not pass them on to our children and their children. For all of these reasons, it is the right thing to do to get our energy programs right.