Update – Army Energy Initiatives Task Force

 

Six months ago, the Secretary of the Army established the Army’s Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF). Today, I would like to provide you an update on EITF and share with you the great strides that it has made.

First, I would like to take a step back and talk about the broader Army efforts regarding our installations.  One area is the Army’s Net Zero strategy – encompassing energy, water and waste.

A Net Zero energy installation produces as much energy annually as it uses. This does not necessarily mean you replace current

Constructed in 2008, the two-megawatt Fort Carson, Colo., solar array produces enough electricity to power 540 homes.

energy requirements with on-site energy production.  It means that installations address energy efficiency as the primary first step, and then evaluate repurposing and reusing energy as well as energy recovery.

When the amount of energy required by the installation is reduced, the power needed from an alternate source is minimized.  To plan for energy security, an alternate energy supply to the utility power grid is crucial.  We understand that there is a need to enhance our energy security.  It is operationally necessary, financially prudent and critical to our mission.

I also want to briefly discuss on-site energy production, which enables each installation to plan for continuity of operations – if the grid is unavailable.  Power grids are increasingly vulnerable and expose Army operations to risk.  We are living in a time when our Army faces multiple threats.  Threats to energy security can be a man made terrorist attack, but also comes in the form of natural disasters.  Our installations are facing droughts in the West and unstable weather throughout the U.S.

According to a number of government agencies and national security experts, utilities and energy industries are vulnerable and rank high on the list of potential targets by terrorists.  We must address these threats and work to ensure that the Army of tomorrow has the same access to resources as the Army of today.

The Army risk mitigation strategy for on-site renewable energy production addresses both electrical and thermal energy. The fiscal responsibility aspect of this strategy is just as important.  That is where the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force comes in.  The EITF serves as the central management office that plans and executes large-scale renewable energy projects greater than 10 megawatts on Army installations by leveraging private sector financing.

In order to reach the Army goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025, we need to effectively work with the private sector to contract for an estimated cumulative investment of $7 billion. This estimate was derived through analysis with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab. This estimate assumes a mix of renewable energy strategies such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy. It also assumes that our efforts to increase energy efficiency at permanent installations will reduce our overall demand for energy.

Wood debris is chipped and flowed into the back of a chip van, which looks like semi-trailers. It will then be hauled to the Central Energy Plan, where it will be used for energy.

The EITF was tasked to develop a process that is clear, consistent and transparent. This process provides the private sector with a consistent environment to engage with the Army, which will allow EITF projects to maximize return on investments for both the Army and industry.

The Army is committed to deploying large scale renewable energy projects broadly and systematically to meets its internal goals and installation energy security.

The EITF is actively working with installations to screen and provide feedback on renewable energy project proposals based on an enterprise-wide approach. The EITF’s dedicated technical, business and acquisition expertise will help speed overall project development timelines, and ensure the highest and best value to the Army.

Over the last 6 months we have developed standard approaches and criteria to evaluating different project opportunities and are currently engaged with 15 different installations at various levels of due diligence.

For each of these projects, the EITF reviews Installation Security and Mission impacts, Expected Economics, Real Estate access, Utility Regulations, Off-Take requirements, System Integration, Environmental Permitting and Acquisition Approach.

Not all of the sites we are looking at will necessarily be put out to bid. However, for those that are, the private sector can have confidence that the Army has qualified these as real projects, that they have a requirement, and are ready for engagement by developers.

We believe that this approach will allow us to attract significant developer interest in the Army’s large scale renewable energy projects, which will help the Army achieve the best value.

Our approach to project due diligence as well as other business processes will be documented in a Renewable Energy Project Development Guide to be issued for comment later this spring.  Having this level of transparency and openness to our approach is a win-win for everyone.

Over the last 6 months, we’ve had requests to meet with more than 195 companies.  To date we’ve actually met with over 40 of those companies to outline our approach and plans.  The feedback we’ve received has told us we definitely on the right path.

We’ve worked closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a Request for Proposal (RFP), under what is called a Multi-Order Task Order Contact or MATOC.  This will give us the capability to quickly specify and acquire the output from renewable energy projects based on specifications and initial development work done by the EITF.

This EITF effort has a ceiling of $7 billion in electricity payments with each project being procured for up to 30 years, consistent with Department of Defense authority. The draft RFP for the MATOC is currently open and out for comments until March 24.  We have encouraged and received comment back from a number of developers and financial institutions.  We look forward to receiving that feedback.

The EITF is hosting an Industry Summit II in mid-May. The purpose of this event is for the Army ETIF to update the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, other federal agencies and the private sector on the progress of the Army EITF and discuss large-scale renewable energy projects.

The “Renewable Energy Development Guides” will be out for comment by then and we look forward to a real discussion about moving ahead.  “Industry Summit II” will expand the participation from our first event in November of last year to include more industry representatives, all Army installations, and other federal agencies.

The EITF has a new website that will provide the latest information on task force initiatives. It is located at www.armyeitf.com.

I will be excited to provide you a further update in May.

Army Strong!

This Army Live Blog Post was written by the Honorable Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment (ASA IE&E).