Fort Hunter Liggett was the only Army installation selected to participate in a Department of Defense-wide White House Virtual Tour, hosted by Andrew Mayock, Federal Chief Sustainability Officer for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, July 2, 2021.
The presentation was done digitally, with the Fort Hunter Liggett team at home station.
Col. Daniel Cederman, director of Army Reserve Installation Management (ARIMD) said FHL “has really been at the forefront of all things resiliency for the Army Reserve for over a decade. A lot of the lessons learned that they have developed and the products they have been integrated up the chain into our infrastructure strategy so we can gain the effect of the best practices across the Army Reserve as a whole.”
FHL Garrison Commander Col. Lisa Lamb gave an overview of the installation’s energy resiliency projects and the necessity for preparing for power outages. “Fort Hunter Liggett’s primary mission is to provide a superior training and readiness platform to our Army Reserve Soldiers and DoD partners,” said Lamb.
She said energy sustainability is of particular importance to FHL because of elevated risk of wildfire, particularly last year’s Dolan Fire which breached the installation’s northern training areas and threatened the cantonment. The utility systems in California also started instituting Public Safety Power Shutoffs two years ago to reduce the chance of their electrical lines sparking a wildfire during extreme conditions.
“To insure installations are more resilient and prepared for future climate threats, Army Directive 2020-08 establishes requirements for Army bases in the strategic support area in order to protect critical assets and insure mission resilience against threats caused by changes of climate and extreme weather,” said Lamb. She referenced the Army Climate Assessment Tool developed by Army Corps of Engineers shows that severe drought, wildfires and riverine flooding will be the dominant hazards at FHL in the future.
Jarrod Ross, Resource Efficiency Manager for FHL, gave an overview of FHL’s microgrid program with its ability to operate in “islanded mode” should power from the grid be lost. That means the power system will automatically and immediately convert to strictly what is produced on-site to keep mission-critical facilities running.
“I believe that in about 14 months when FHL can manage their facilities and energy assets due to this interface, and watch this microgrid feedback loop operate in real time when necessary, it will provide a precursory glimpse of what the installation of the future could look like.”
Andrew Mayock asked if this was cutting edge technology in its scope, and Ross replied he didn’t know of any other installation that had this capability.
Ross mentioned the new FHL microgrid which broke ground in early June, the groundbreaking of the Parks Reserve Forces Training Area (sub-installation) microgrid in August, and an award of the secondary wastewater treatment plant at FHL due by end of FY21. “The garrison is looking at a path toward expanding on the foundation of resilience that so many personnel have worked so long and so hard to achieve,” said Ross.
He estimates $20 to $25 million of investment will be needed over the next decade “to enhance that resilience across the entire cantonment area while mitigating climate risk for the installation.” That includes increasing energy storage, expanding integrated controls to additional buildings, a water microgrid for the potable water wells located several miles from the cantonment area, expanding the distribution system for the reclaimed water that will be produced by the secondary wastewater treatment plant, continuing infrastructure upgrades, and investigating emergent energy technologies to incorporate into FHL’s efforts.
Ross also said that the cantonment’s relatively small size allowed for adoption of new technologies that might have been more difficult to implement on a larger scale, such as the air-to-water heat pumps for domestic hot water generation. “This allows FHL to be a great test bed to evaluate emerging programs and technologies, produce lessons learned, and provide a scalable template for resilience implementation that could be used to inform federal entities in the future.”
When Mayock asked what were some of the challenges experienced here, Ross said the government contracting process doesn’t always follow “best practices” that would be in play in the private sector.
Bob Sanders, Directorate of Public Works director, said that training employees to operate the new equipment results in down time, and finding local experts to repair the systems are additional challenges that can be overcome. Ross added that being remote installation means competent contractors may be more than three hours away, making it difficult to manage those systems.
Ross also said the Integrated Installation Control Center is the key to standardizing an efficient system across the DoD, using fewer and fewer disparate systems. “That’s when we really start to get more into the Installation of the Future.”