by Guest Author Johan Ulloa
Constellation is an IMA Member
The Mid-Atlantic has been waterlogged for the past several weeks as continual rain has caused massive flooding, power outages and plenty of canceled Little League games. Being an energy professional and a bit of a “prepper,” I ensure that my family is relatively well-prepared for power outages—with flashlights, water and the tastiest treats you can buy—just ask my kids!
Emergency preparations aside, my family does not rely on critical infrastructure to conduct its day-to-day routine. However, looking around the region, there are a multitude of federal installations whose missions are vital to national and global security. This raises not only the question of how these individual bases and facilities are equipped to sustain outages, but also the question of what the government is doing to identify its critical infrastructure and ensure mission continuity.
Congress is working toward passing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. The current House bill #H.R. 5515 further defines energy and climate resiliency as “anticipation, preparation for, and adaptation to utility disruptions and changing environmental conditions and the ability to withstand, respond to and recover rapidly from utility disruptions while ensuring sustainment of mission-critical operations.” The proposed bill includes energy security planning mandates, metric tracking, and reporting requirements at the installation level. The goal of the bill is to provide installation commanders capable of identifying which missions require uninterruptible power and to work toward a means of securing that power, if it is not secured already.
Though still a relatively low number, the occurrences and durations of major grid outages are on the rise in the United States. Major storms, wildfires and geopolitical conditions have increased the threat level and jeopardized the resiliency of our power grid. As the 2018 National Defense Strategy points out, “It is now undeniable that the homeland is no longer a sanctuary.” In the face of these challenges, our military and federal agencies must ensure that their core missions are protected and resilient.
Installations must explore viable options to identify and secure critical loads. Part of each installation’s planning process must include measures to optimize its facilities through energy efficiency. These energy efficiency measures would reduce an installation’s energy demand, with the added benefits of cost savings and infrastructure improvements yielded by these projects. Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) and Utility Energy Service Contracts (UESCs) are two prominent contracting mechanisms that facilitate implementation of energy savings projects that encompass not only energy efficiency, but also onsite generation and smart controls that bolster resiliency. Because these contracts can tap into private sector financing, the government agency can instead focus its appropriated funds on ensuring the lethality of the warfighter.
While a utopian solution to energy resiliency does not exist, risk identification and planning represent the pivotal first stages to developing feasible solutions that can be proven in the field. Tapping into private sector expertise and funding will accelerate the delivery of pragmatic options for federal facilities’ consideration. The electric grid is a mature and complex system that has evolved over time. We must adapt and leverage new technologies, processes and methods to ensure that the government is powered to secure our nation. Energy security and resiliency are not just new buzzwords, but a response to our new normal.
There is no question that consumers, including federal agencies, have more options when managing their energy supply and demand. The right supplier is needed to help a customer evaluate, implement and manage distributed energy resources to ensure long-term success.
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