By Mr. Eric Pilgrim (Fort Knox news)October 23, 2019
In less than 12 minutes, two engineers from Fort Knox's utility provider, Nolin RECC, successfully unplugged the Army post from Louisville Gas & Electric Oct. 23 and powered the entire installation using internally-generated sources of energy.
Directorate of Public Works officials said they hoped the test, which mirrored the conditions of last year's successful test, would surpass the 14-minute mark this time.
"We have 15 minutes set aside for this but we're hoping to get everything back on in 12," said R.J. Dyrdek, DPW's energy manager.
Sitting among the team of officials at the energy hub anticipating the post-wide shut down were two officials from the Federal Energy Management Program and one from the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy. Leslie Nicholls, strategic director of FEMP, said Fort Knox is leading the way in energy resilience.
"The lessons that we take here we're able to transfer across the federal government to improve the agility and ability of other agencies, both Department of Defense and civilian, to improve the resilience posture," said Nicholls.
Joanne Lowry, on detail to FEMP, said they are in the process of developing an energy resiliency plan at FEMP.
Prior to the start of the exercise, the two, along with Rick Bender, executive director at the state's Office of Energy Policy, received explanations of the process from DPW Director Pat Walsh, Dyrdek, and Maj. Gen. John Evans, Jr., commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox.
Evans explained that energy resilience is a win-win for everyone involved, especially members of the civilian population outside the gates during an energy crisis.
"If we can lessen the load demand on the community, that's huge," said Evans. "You have people that are living in very remote areas in this part of Kentucky who need to have their power come back up quickly because they may be elderly, they may be indigent; they may not have the ability to do much for themselves very well. We're pretty self-sufficient here.
"If I can disconnect from power and power the installation by itself and reduce that demand on the LG&E system, and let other people draw that power and be able to repair faster, that's huge for us and the community."
Nicholls explained that she and Lowry were here to glean as much information about the installation's successes as possible to go into building training modules to help other agencies build their specific resiliency strategies based on the Fort Knox model. Evans acknowledged it.
"I know we have a lot of folks watching what we're doing here at Fort Knox and going, 'Okay, how do we get there, as well?'" said Evans.
Roughly 2,000 facilities on post, including about 1,500 homes, receive power from the LG&E grid. Afterward, Nicholls and Lowry said shutting the entire grid down and powering up the Fort Knox grid during a busy midday workweek was a gutsy move.
"They didn't try and isolate just for critical loads; it was the entire base," said Nicholls. "Other installations are trying this more in an isolated way."
"And it was done in the midday," said Lowry. "That's very impressive."
Nicholls smiled: "And brave."
Officials managed to get all facilities back online in 11 minutes, 36 seconds.