Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James last week highlighted the service’s shift to a more comprehensive approach to meeting its energy goals that balances the need for cleaner sources of energy, a competitive cost and energy resiliency.
The Air Force’s new approach will be carried out by the Office of Energy Assurance, which will develop privately financed, large-scale clean energy projects. The office, which was created in March, will leverage existing tools and authorities to procure large-scale energy projects, including power purchase agreements, direct funding and enhanced use leasing.
“We are going to have to make sure there’s some money there. Like with any new approach you perhaps start on the smaller side and then you scale from there,” James said during an Aug. 4 event at New America, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
Miranda Ballentine, assistant secretary for installations, environment and energy, explained the service’s shift in a March 1 memo, reported Federal News Radio.
“Air Force energy projects have focused on cost savings and goal achievement resulting in a fragmented and/or siloed approach. Going forward, the Air Force will transition to a more comprehensive approach to energy challenges. This approach will not exclusively maximize return on investment or comply with federal renewable mandates, nor rely on traditional back-up power sources. Rather, it will holistically optimize cost and provide resilient, cleaner sources of energy by balancing the objectives of AF energy projects,” the memo stated.
The energy assurance office signals the heightened role energy fulfills for the Air Force, particularly in light of the growing importance of cyber missions, James said.
“It’s really a recognition of the new world order, and it’s a recognition that several of our … core missions are really, really dependent on access to energy,” she said, reported National Defense magazine.