Resourcing Installations Energy Resilience Solutions

By Mr. J.E. Jack Surash, P.E., Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Energy and Sustainability) and Mr. Mike McGhee, P.E., Executive Director, Army Office of Energy InitiativesApril 13, 2020

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Workers install portions of the 8.5 megawatt-per-hour battery system at Fort Carson, Colorado. Huntsville Center’s Energy Savings Performance Contracting program coordinated the project designed to reduce peak electricity use costs, especially...
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Workers install portions of the 8.5 megawatt-per-hour battery system at Fort Carson, Colorado. Huntsville Center’s Energy Savings Performance Contracting program coordinated the project designed to reduce peak electricity use costs, especially during the summer cooling season. (Photo by Scott Clark) (Photo Credit: William Farrow) VIEW ORIGINAL

Energy resilience is the ability for an Army installation to avoid, prepare for, minimize, adapt to, and recover from anticipated and unanticipated energy disruptions. In an increasingly complex world of threats to energy and water supplies, Army installations have to be capable of maintaining energy resilience through a wide range of natural or man-made disruptions.

Energy resilience is vital to Army readiness. Maintaining world-class training facilities, the ability to project power or surge the industrial base, and command and control are mission objectives of Army installations. Mission success on Installations is not achievable without secure and resilient access to energy (and water).

By weaving together acquisition and real estate authorities, and leveraging private investor interests, the U.S. Army is developing comprehensive energy resilience solutions for installations, which optimize resources and funding to the benefit of the Army, private investors, third party financers, and other stakeholders.

Energy and water is big business for the Army. Generally, the Army spends over $1 billion on installation energy and $85 million on potable water annually in support of Army installations. However, most Army installations are dependent on public electricity, natural gas, and water utility systems that are typically off the installations, and at greater risk of supply disruption. To help counter this risk, the Army has recommended that Installations become capable of supplying their own energy and water, or in other words, be “islandable,” and capable of supporting their critical missions during an extended outage. This will enable the Army to achieve greater mobility and lethality to maintain its tactical and strategic edge.

Providing installations energy resilience solutions presents both challenges and opportunities.

The Army Office of Energy Initiatives (OEI), under the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, serves as the Army’s central program management office for the development, implementation, and oversight of privately financed, large-scale energy projects, many of which focus on enhancing energy resilience on Army installations.

The OEI prioritizes improving energy resilience to enable installation and Army readiness. The office facilitates the development of energy projects that directly support the installation missions and the Army’s top priorities.

Through collaboration with other Army organizations, industry, public utilities, and stakeholders the OEI seeks energy resilience projects that include generation, storage, and control capabilities using private sector financing. Using resources and authorities such as direct appropriations, third party financing, and direct private investments, the OEI is enabling energy resilience efforts across the Army. Combining Army resources with industry resources can create a union that complements both parties.

The OEI’s first preference for helping an installation move installation’s critical infrastructure toward energy resilience is through direct private investment, where we collaborate with industry, leverage their investment plans, contribute Army value to the project, and share the resulting benefits. Often, the Army provides land and the utility or industry partner owns, operates and maintains the energy resilience infrastructure while ensuring the Army’s energy resilience needs are met. Sometimes, utilizing Power Purchase Agreements, the Army purchases energy generated from industry while industry provides the Army with onsite, on-demand access to power from these resilient energy assets, sometimes  full-time or more often only as needed during an outage or contingency.

Another method of Army – Industry collaboration is through Real Estate outgrants, typically in the form of leases or easements. These outgrants allow private sector entities to develop, often through a competitive process to develop underutilized (but not excess) Army real property for purposes that are compatible with an installation's mission. The Army has potentially available land, a demand for power, and a need to ensure energy resilience on installations to sustain critical missions. Private industry can potentially utilize Army land for siting of commercial energy assets in exchange for providing the Army with first right to power in the event of an electrical grid outage.

The Army’s second preference is to “borrow, invest and harvest.” Using performance based contracts, installations can receive improved quality infrastructure, harvest energy savings to pay for the infrastructure, obtain resilience capabilities in the most financially prudent means possible, and obtain savings on utility costs where possible. Examples include Utility Energy Service Contracts and Energy Saving Performance Contracts. As an additional benefit, the Army leverages private sector expertise to restore or upgrade energy equipment. Leveraged energy assets and services provides the Army with modernized infrastructure and pays upfront costs - which the Army repays over the course of the contract from the savings that modernization has generated.

Using direct appropriations, the Army will own, operate and maintain assets associated with a resilience project on an installation when necessary. However, buying, operating and maintaining infrastructure with appropriated funding is OEI’s third preference, due to challenges in balancing the Army’s extensive infrastructure capitalization and sustainment needs. Ultimately, the OEI can integrate these multiple resourcing streams to “assemble” a final solution set.

The OEI projects have resulted in an estimated $627 million of direct private capital investment. The OEI has 11 operational projects with more than 300 Megawatts of production capacity. These projects also bring in over $600 million in sustainment value over the life of the project. Several other projects are in the assessment, validation or agreement phases of review and development. Although some projects are subject to final Army and/or regulatory approvals, once complete, 80 percent of the projects, either in operation or early consideration, will provide some islandable capability for critical missions.


The Army is modernizing Energy Systems utilizing concepts and capabilities emerging from advances in distributed energy, smart grids and storage technologies. The Army is reforming energy practices to attract private sector capabilities and capital to strengthen the regional power grids that support Army installations, and equip Army energy systems with the best capabilities to withstand threats.

For example, the Battery Energy Storage facility at Fort Carson, Colorado is largest peak-shaving battery on an Army installation as of November 2018. The battery offsets the high-energy demands placed on Fort Carson’s power grid, especially during summer cooling season, ultimately increasing power grid resilience. The facilities reduce the garrison’s billed peak electric use by an average of 9 percent every month, which will save Fort Carson approximately $525,000 a year.

Operational since December 2017, a project at Redstone Arsenal (RSA), Alabama includes the Army’s first privately funded, economically viable Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). The 1 megawatt / 2 megawatt-hour battery storage system is coupled with a 10 megawatt on-site solar array. The project generates on-site, fuel-free power for use by Redstone Arsenal and its tenants, and stores a portion of that power to be used to offset power and demand charges during peak rate times. The project enhances energy resilience by adding diversity to RSA’s energy supply and adds operational flexibility for a future microgrid. The project included a 27 year Power Purchase Agreement and a lease for approximately 114 acres.

Hawaiian Electric constructed, owns and operates a 50-megawatt multi-fuel Plant / 30-Day Microgrid generation plant at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. The plant is capable of providing three installations with 100 percent of energy requirements during a grid outage. Located above the tsunami inundation zone, the plant is equipped with “blackstart” capability, five days of fuel storage onsite, and 30 days of fuel storage on the island. The plant enhances Oahu grid resilience and provides power to an important set of military capabilities during an outage.

Army installations provide direct support to our operational warfighter in both operational requirements and as power projection platforms. Secure and uninterrupted access to energy (and water) is essential to Army missions.

Todays’ highly contested, lethal, and complex operating environment calls for diligent, joint management of energy, water, and land resources.

Increasingly, Energy and water resilience and security enables Army readiness. The OEI is seeking collaboration and engagement with industry to meet our energy resilience needs while facilitating private investment objectives, simultaneously.

The Army is committed to a long-term energy and water resilience strategy in order to strengthen mission readiness.