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San Antonio - In facing an often-uncertain energy future, while never wavering from its mission of protecting and defending America’s interests around the globe, the U.S. Army is launching ambitious initiatives on several fronts to ensure it can power its future to meet the challenges ahead.

October is Energy Action Month, an annual event designed to raise awareness about energy resilience, efficiency, and accountability and to drive behavior change. The 2022 theme is “Energy Resilience: Sustain the Mission – Secure the Future.”

Ryan Hernandez, newly named interim Energy Division Chief for U.S. Army Installation Management Command G4 Facilities and Logistics said by focusing on improving how energy resources are managed, created and deployed, the Army has set both broad and ambitious goals, as well as localized plans to make changes at installations and on-the-ground. He said the energy month theme accurately captures the approach he and his team are employing to help support energy planning.

“The three big pillars of the Army Installation Energy and Water Strategic Plan -- resilience, efficiency and affordability -- are going to be communicated across the Army and to the installations as they are looking at projects and investments,” Hernandez said. “They’re looking to identify efficiencies as well as vulnerabilities and try to address them at the same time. We want to be able to get the best bang for our dollar.”

He added that by seeking to achieve Army goals while also analyzing local conditions produces the best outcomes. For example, he said as part of moving toward an all-electric non-tactical vehicle fleet, not every installation has the same needs. Analysts determined that at some installations, the in-house fleet vehicles rarely travel more than 100 miles, typically staying closer. Designing charging stations around this reality is much more cost-efficient than putting in more powerful, and expensive, charging stations to handle more intensive needs – saving money and energy simultaneously.

“The Army is making significant investments in moving our fleet over to electric vehicles, putting chargers out there and creating the right infrastructure necessary to make this change,” he said.

In announcing Energy Action Month, the Army identified specific goals, including creating more than 500 megawatts of renewable energy capacity, reducing energy use intensity (already down by 10.5% since 2003), and attracting private sector investments and partnerships designed to create energy resilience and reduce energy costs. This ongoing work in multiple areas is helping to coordinate the broad efforts across the Army.

One example of energy testing and improvement planning ongoing is the creation of Black Start Exercises, known as BSEs, where the power from external sources is cut off to installations, and the ability of the installation’s backup systems to respond is put to the test. Several installations have participated in these exercises, and the data and experiences from the tests have produced valuable information that will be shared across installations.

In May, the Rock Island Arsenal conducted a BSE, that will be analyzed by the Lincoln Laboratory for the Department of the Army at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Department of Defense-funded lab that focuses on applying advanced technology to problems of national security.

Rock Island Arsenal Garrison Commander Col. Todd Allison said: ““On the local installation level, this will allow us to see ourselves in actuality versus theory. We often think we know we have the measures in place for a real-world event, but this exercise will demonstrate if that is truly the case.”

Linda Albrecht, an environmental support manager at USAEC, is part of the teams working to provide training and information at the garrison and installation level on energy and related climate issues. She said the focus of the courses and sessions is helping installations make energy conservation choices that reduce cost and environmental impact, while maintaining critical operations.

She also said while the larger goals and benchmarks are consistent and driven by the pillars of resilience, efficiency and affordability, the methods and approaches needed to produce results will have to vary by installation and consider local conditions.

“The Army has pilot and testing exercises that can help share critical information, then the question becomes ‘How does the installation want to implement that at their location?’“ she said.

As part of Energy Action Month, focus on several topics, including tactical microgrids, climate resilience, conservation and innovative private sector partnerships like Energy Savings Performance Contracts and Utility Energy Service Contracts will be highlighted – sharing vital information across the Army to drive localized installation progress.

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“Energy resilience is a top priority for the Army and is key to making the Army a twenty-first century energy leader,” said the Honorable Rachel Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment.