By Dennis K. Bohannon, ASA (IE&E)December 29, 2016
WASHINGTON - The White House announced that the Federal government has exceeded the $4 billion target set in the President's Performance Contracting Challenge, a significant federal-wide achievement, contributed greatly to by the U.S. Army.
President Obama issued the challenge to all federal agencies in December 2011, asking them to partner with companies to save energy through the Energy Savings and Performance-Based Contracting Investments Initiative. The President challenged all of government to execute $4 billion in Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) and Utility Energy Services Contract (UESC) projects by the end of 2016.
The White House made the announcement saying, "Today we are proud to announce that the President's challenge has been exceeded, with 21 Federal agencies awarding 340 projects with over $4.2 billion in value."
The Federal Chief Sustainability Officer, Council on Environmental Quality, Christine Harada noted, "This is a big milestone that shows not only how the private and public sectors can work together to achieve joint objectives, the hard work that agencies put forward to meet an ambitious goal."
U.S. Army played a significant role in meeting the President's challenge. The Army has contracted for 127 individual projects, or task orders. By the end of this year those figures are expected to total $1.135 billion. This represents over 25 percent of the federal government's total response to the President's challenge and more than 65 percent of the Department of Defense's total efforts. On behalf of the Army, a team of representatives from the offices of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy and Environment), Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, US Army Corps of Engineers, and Defense Logistic Agency-Energy were recently recognized with the Department of Energy 2016 Federal Energy and Water Management Director's Award for this work.
A significant contributor to the Army's effort, has been the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Engineering and Support Center in Huntsville, Ala. USACE has executed contracts for $902 million on behalf of the Army since fiscal year 2011.
Hon. Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment explained, "These contracts are important to the Army. Federal agencies, like the Army, can leverage their utility budgets and take the steps essential to enhancing resiliency, achieving cost savings, and improving operations and maintenance, with no upfront costs to the government."
Under the Energy Savings and Performance-Based Contracting Investments Initiative, private investors use their own funds to modernize, upgrade, or implement energy and water efficiency, as well as renewable energy systems on Army installations. In return, the Army pays back the investment with some of the utility cost savings achieved from these improvements. The investors guarantee a minimum savings that meets or exceeds the required payments. At the end of the contract, the Army owns all of the improvements and benefits from the continuing savings, which it can use to meet other readiness requirements. The costs of the projects are paid back to the investors over time as the Army realizes savings from the improvements
"This is not a science project," Hammack said, "This is a case where public policy has worked well."
There are two different types of energy-saving partnerships, said Randall Smidt, an engineer working for the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management. He explained, UESCs are agreements between utility companies and government entities. The Army has initiated 42 of these in the last five years. The second type, ESPCs, are partnerships between the government and an energy service company. The Army has initiated more than 86 ESPC partnerships in the last five years.
The Army has aggressively pursued energy savings with these types of contracts since 1992, and currently has the largest ESPC program in the federal government. These projects save the Army over 8.3 trillion BTUs of energy per year. Adding the two types of contracts together, that adds up to saving 12.7 trillion BTUs of energy annually -- enough to power nearly 350,000 average U.S. households.
Hammack notes that the Army has hundreds of contracts in place across the United States and Europe, each benefiting the Army's energy and sustainability efforts.
"For example," she said, "The Anniston Army Depot in Alabama has both UESC's and ESPC's in place." The Army's $1 billion milestone was surpassed with a contract signed, Aug. 11, by Anniston Army Depot and its utility company. These contracts will enhance the Army's readiness efforts by allowing Anniston to run more effective and efficient daily operations. More importantly, they directly impact the comfort and well-being of Soldiers and Civilians on post. These projects brought improvements to the generation and distribution of central steam. They included the installation of advanced controls and related mechanical modifications to the main steam plants. It included replacement of failed steam traps in 45 buildings, and repair of steam leaks in portions of the outdoor steam distribution piping. These efforts laid the foundation for the new Building Operations Command Center to properly engage and operate the advanced controls system.
The Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland has multiple phased task orders in place, achieved through collaborations with the Huntsville Corps of Engineers and energy saving partnerships. As part of those task orders, they have a Combine Heat and Power (CHP) Plant which is expected to not only save the Army $4.4 million annually while supporting crucial Army research and development and chemical and biological facilities, but, will have the steam capacity to generate half of the community of Edgewood's electric load. Greenhouse gases and other pollutants are reduced because the CHP consumes less fuel than separate electric and steam plants to produce the same amount of energy. This is largely due to the ability of the CHP to recover and utilize heat that is wasted at a conventional electricity generation plant. Estimates place the emission reductions at 22,571 tons per year of CO2 when compared to technologies that are more traditional. An ancillary community benefit to the project is the change in the truck traffic. The usual high volume from trash trucks transporting waste out of Edgewood will disappear with the closing of the waste burning facility, a change that is likely to please many local Harford County residents.
White Sands Missile Range constructed a $16.8 million, 4.5 megawatt ground-mounted solar photovoltaic power plant system spread across 42 acres. The system includes: the ability to track the sun across the sky, a solar carport with a two car charging system, and can provide power for the headquarters building -- making it a Net Zero energy building. Power not consumed by the headquarters building is redirected to the government owned distribution system for use by other facilities. All energy generated is consumed by the installation. These efforts resulted in annual cost avoidance of $698,000 and save 30,000 million BTUs of energy per year.
The Army Material Command and Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois focused on a variety of industrial process upgrades with some projects achieving a 50 percent savings while greatly improving production capabilities. The projects, expected to be completed this year, will cut energy use by approximately 28 percent, reduce water usage by nearly 50 percent, and generate at least $4.1 million in annual energy and operational savings. One project is expected to save the Army Materiel Command depot nearly 14.8 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year -- enough energy to power more than 1,360 homes on average, and an environmental benefit of cutting an estimated 72 million pounds of carbon dioxide each year, which is equivalent to removing more than 6,300 cars from the road. The upgrades have also delighted the employees with better lighting, air circulation, and overall comfort on the job.
At Fort Bliss, Texas, a $16 million project is expected to save $42 million in energy costs over 25 years, while annually generating about 2.2 million kilowatt hours of energy from a renewable source. Through this project, the installation will purchase energy produced by 5,500 solar panels, without owning or maintaining the equipment. The project was specifically designed to offset peak afternoon energy demands when utility rates are highest and potential brown-outs are prone to occur. In addition to the solar panels, the agreement includes a variety of energy savings measures including utility monitoring and control systems to manage energy consumption of 120 buildings.
The U.S. Army Reserve, 99th Regional Support Command received a Federal Energy and Water Management Award by identifying inefficiencies and developed strategies for a major program overhaul that resulted in a 12.4 percent reduction in energy use intensity in fiscal year 2014 from the prior year on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. The strategy went beyond achieving mandates, it included an energy savings performance contract worth more than $57 million in guaranteed savings. A key component of the team's successful program strategy will continue to improve efficiencies for years to come as it calls for the seamless integration within the Directorate of Public Works (DPW), making sure all levels and sections of the DPW are included in planning discussions, product design, and project execution, while leveraging each other's strengths and resources.
The Army will continue to work hand-in-hand with industry partners to develop cutting-edge methods to reduce energy consumption, enhance energy efficiency, improve readiness, and help the Army continue to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars.