Secretary of the Army John McHugh
Secretary of the Army John McHugh delivers remarks during the 2011 GovEnergy conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, August 10, 2011. (Army photo by Spc. John G. Martinez)

Madam Secretary, thank you for those kind comments and I particularly want to express my appreciation to all of you for the opportunity to be with you here today. And, I want to thank Chairman Sabel and his organization for allowing me to join with you, but obviously also for bringing so much effort -- and I might add successful effort -- to putting this great event together and it is truly an honor for me to be here today.

Having said that, as I look out over this fine group of largely federal employees and government stakeholders - representatives and leaders as you are of agencies and industries that are committed to more effective energy management and developing new, renewable energy sources - I do feel a little bit guilty.

As Secretary of the Army, I am keenly aware -- as Katharine Hammack tells me just about every day -- that the Department of Defense consumes some eighty percent of the entire federal government's energy use. 80 percent -- that's a pretty healthy chunk.

And with so many people here from so many different federal agencies and the federal government -- as we call you, the 20 percent folks -- I kind of feel like some of you may have felt a little bit earlier behind the big guy in the buffet line. You're waiting patiently, but you're wondering whether he's ever going to get through and if there's going to be anything left by the time he's done -- even though his plate, as our energy plate in the Department of Defense, is already pretty full.

But having said that, as I hope you understand, that utilization -- that eighty percent -- isn't truly driven just by gluttony, not produced through waste. It's the reality -- at least over the last decade -- of a Nation at war. And that 80 percent, I might add, is DOD wide -- we in the Army are somewhat more modest, we represent about 21 percent of the department's fuel and energy consumption.

Now I want to tell you, I normally don't use a lot of statistics -- I like them, but everytime I give a speech using statistics someone comes and tells me [that] it makes for a boring speech. But, having said that I would like to share a few numbers with you.

In World War II, the average daily fuel consumption for an allied Soldier was about one gallon a day. Today, in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, it's between 15 and 22 gallons per Soldier a day. Now, the good news is that a large chunk of that increase is based on the fact that our Soldiers have better equipment, in fact more and better equipment, that is not only making them more effective as a fighting force, but it's also keeping them safer.

I want to give you an example, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, or MRAP as we call it. As you may know, that's a heavily armored, fighting vehicle that gets about three miles to the gallon -- not what you'd want in your family vehicle. Not very efficient. But of critical importance, after the MRAP was deployed to Iraq in 2008, fatalities from attacks by roadside bombs dropped by almost 90 percent from the previous year.

So, while no question it's an energy intensive vehicle, you're not going to get those kinds of results with an up-armored Prius [laughter]. But I don't belive there's anyone among us would be willing to trade those very measurable increases in Soldier safety for a few more miles per gallon.

Having said that, I want to be very, very clear. That doesn't mean our military, and it certainly doesn't mean our Army, can't do a better job of managing energy resources and developing new, clean, renewable energies that create even greater increases in Soldier safety and effectiveness. We think it's possible, we think it's worth doing, and I know we have the people and the know how to get it done.

We also know that we have to do better. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our Soldiers, but also we owe it to the environment and particularly to the American taxpayer.

Last year, our energy costs in the United States Army were about $4 billion-- and about 70 percent of that was just on fuel.

Across the federal government, and certainly in the Department of Defense, we know that after a decade of war -- and what sometimes seemed like unlimited financial resources -- we're entering a new era of tighter budgets … leaner economies … smaller bases of expenditures. And as such, more wise spending on energy -- finding ways to do more with less -- whether by conserving existing resources or developing and utilizing renewable energies -- doesn't just make sense, it makes dollars and cents.

And when you look at the size and scope of the United States Army, boy, the opportunities are there.

As [Assistant] Secretary Hammack noted, we have 1.1 million Soldiers in our ranks -- active duty, guard and reserve. We have more than 400,000 civilian and contracted employees. If we were a city, we would represent the fourth largest city in the United States.

We have 158 installations worldwide; more than 132,000 miles of infrastructure for electric, gas, sewer and water; and over one billion square feet of office space. We own more than 15 million acres of land across the United States, or about 24,000 square miles which, if the Army was a state, we'd be the 42d largest.

We have more people than the city of Philadelphia and more territory than the state of Maryland. What I'm trying to say is, we're pretty darn big.

And like those cities, those states, and the people who live in them, we have an obligation to manage and conserve. And as the United States Army, we have the ability to adapt, to innovate, to lead.

And I'm very pleased to tell you that we have already begun. And it's not a story that's widely known. So I hope you'll bear with me for a moment. Despite an increase in the inventory of Army building space and stateside installations supporting the war-fight over the last ten years, energy use per unit area has actually dropped by 8.3 percent from the 2003 baseline.

Last fiscal year, the Army had 126 renewable energy projects, with nearly all the energy produced from them used on-site, for Army installations.

We've added hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles to our non-tactical vehicle fleet…we launched a "net zero" initiative, identifying installations that will produce as much energy on-site as they use in a year…and that extends not just to energy but to waste and water as well. And we've replaced "point generation" power production with several minigrid/power plants supporting U.S. forces in Afghanistan with plans to incorporate 20 more in the near future.

Now that's a pretty good start, and it's just a small sample of the things we're doing. And in spite of all that, we know that we have a lot of work left to do. In fact, the Army needs an additional 2.1 million megawatt hours of renewable energy to meets its renewable energy goal of 25 percent in the year 2025. To reach that figure, we expect to require about $7.1 billion in private investment. Don't worry, I'm not asking anyone to break out their checkbook just yet.

In fact, in the ear term we're going to do just the opposite. We're going to make it easier for the private sector to work with us through both an aggressive outreach program to foster strategic and financial support of the Army's Renewable Energy Program, and by reducing private sector risk and streamlining the approval process through a one-stop shop for interested stakeholders.

So I guess in a way you heard me right - some of the most feared words in the English language. I'm from the government, and I'm here to help. But I know I'm in good company, though, because a lot you are from the federal government as well, and as you know that we can help. And government help is possible.

That's why we've chosen this forum to announce the establishment of the Army's Energy Initiatives Office Task Force. The Task Force will be part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment under the very capable lady who was just on this stage -- Assistant Secretary Ms. Katharine Hammack.

I don't think that the Army … I don't think our Nation … could have a better champion, or more passionate -- and impassioned -- advocate than Ms. Hammack, and under her stewardship, I believe … we believe … that the Army will be a leader not only within the Department of Defense but across the federal government, indeed, the Nation, in meeting our energy needs efficiently, prudently and innovatively.

The Initiatives Task Force will be a one-stop shop for the private sector, so we can better harness the expertise of those who can invest and build economically viable, large scale renewable energy infrastructure on Army Installations.

The use of renewable energy sources will decrease the Army's fossil fuel consumption, while lowering our greenhouse gas emissions and creating a more assured energy supply. Development of large-scale renewable energy is good for Soldiers, it's good for communities, and for the country as a whole.

And through the Task Force, we believe we can attract and engage private industry in support of the Army's installation energy needs.

As part of this strategy, you'll see the Army will leverage opportunities through existing contract authorities, such as power purchase agreements, enhanced-use lease agreements, energy savings performance and utilities service contracts.

In addition, the Task Force will be responsible for issuing plans to support Federal energy goals, soliciting renewable energy project initiatives, and working with communities associated with large scale renewable energy projects. They will also work in close concert with key partner Agencies such as the Department of Energy and Bureau of Land Management.

We're going to have this very important office up and running -- contrary to the negative wrap on the "slow moving" habits of the Army or of a federal government bureaucracy -- this year, no later than September 15th -- some five weeks from now.

In support of that effort, the Huntsville Center Corps of Engineers last month released a Sources Sought request for Renewable and Alternative Energy Power Production for Army Installations with an estimated value of $5 billion. The goal therein is to establish a pre-qualified pool of private sector partners who are positioned to finance the development of large scale renewable energy projects and re-coup their capital investment through the sale of energy to the Army, and excess energy back to the grid.

The Corps' request and effort is a critical tool for the Army's Energy Security and Sustainability Strategies -- effectively decreasing future constraints, increasing flexibility, and doing so at a cost the Army can afford, both now and into the future.

And it will serve as a pipeline for large scale energy projects like those under development at Fort Irwin in California, where we are building the largest renewable energy project in the DODs history -- solar power fields that will encompass an area the size of Manhattan; a Geothermal Power Production Plant capable of producing a minimum of 30 Megawatts of electricity at the Hawthorne Army Depot; and several conceptual renewable energy plans at Fort Bliss, including development of a 100 MW of solar power; a 50 MW wind turbine; a 90 MW waste-to-energy plant; a 40 MW geothermal project; and a smart grid to tie all the power sources together.

We know that the Army consumes a great deal of energy. So to complete our mission in doing better, we look at energy needs -- and opportunities for change - across three specific areas.

First is Basing Power, the fuel, water and energy at our installations and base camps; Second, Soldier power, which both employs the Army's Soldiers and Civilians as better stewards of our resources and increases the security and mobility of our men and women, sons and daughters in the field; and, lastly, Vehicle Power, better manage fuel consumption. Just last month, for example in that line, we signed a partnership agreement with the Department of Energy to look at advanced vehicle technologies to increase our vehicle and fuel efficiency.

With four dollar a gallon fuel prices here at home, it's pretty obvious -- if not simple -- to look at fuel consumption as a way to save dollars, and that's important. But it's more than that -- it's an opportunity to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, yes. But for the Army, for the military, it's something even more important. It's about reducing the threat to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.

Simply put, we view energy security as operationally necessary, as well as fiscally prudent and vital to mission accomplishment.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, fuel and water comprise about 70 to 80 percent of ground resupply weight. In Afghanistan, we suffer one casualty for every 46 resupply convoys. Less energy use means fewer convoys, and fewer convoys mean fewer casualties.

So our commitment to Energy Security, and certainly mine as Secretary of the Army, is about much more than pinching pennies and the budget -- as important as the budgets are and will continue to be. It is for us a moral imperative that will make not only our Nation more secure and environmentally sound but, more importantly, our Soldiers safer.

The Army and the military -- DOD -- have a great record and a proud history in our Nation's energy development and, indeed, its conservation. It was the Army Corps of Engineers after all that helped harness the power of the atom during World War II, and it was a former Secretary of Defense who was our country's first-ever Secretary of Energy, on the heels of this Nation's second great energy crisis.

President Obama has wisely noted: "the United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-term security on a resource -- oil - that will eventually run out, and even before it runs out will get more and more expensive to extract from the ground." As he put it: "We can't afford it when the costs to our economy, our country, and our planet are so high."

The President noted in closing that: "Our best opportunities to enhance our energy security can be found in our own backyard. Because we boast one critical, renewable resource that the rest of the world can't match: American ingenuity and American know-how."

As the President noted, to all of you, let me say that while some energy sources on this planet may be running low, American ingenuity, American know-how are in abundant supply and are particularly in abundant supply in the United States Army. So, we will meet, and I promise you we will exceed this challenge.

For your role in the collective effort throughout the federal government, I want to thank you and again express my great appreciation for the honor of joining with you.

God Bless this Nation and God Bless the United States Army.

Thank you all.

Page last updated Wed December 7th, 2011 at 13:32