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DOD Effort to Privatize Utilities Needs to Pick up Steam, Lawmakers Say

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  • May 19, 2011
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The House Armed Services Committee wants the Defense Department to “aggressively and effectively” carry out utilities privatization so the services can focus on their core missions, according to language in the report accompanying the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill the panel approved last week.

Privatization can make the military’s consumption of energy and water more efficient, and is a cost-effective way to improve installation infrastructure, the committee added. The language also directs DOD to assess whether utilities privatization can be leveraged to increase the military’s use of renewable energy and to conserve water.

The House is expected to take up the defense authorization bill, H.R. 1540, next week.

Elsewhere in the report, H. Rpt. 112-78, the committee underscores its concern that many elementary and secondary schools located on military installations are structurally deficient and over capacity. The substandard conditions may adversely impact the quality of life for military families, the lawmakers note.

As a consequence, the report encourages the department to promptly disburse funds appropriated in fiscal 2011 to construct, renovate or expand educational facilities on installations. The DOD Education Activity received a $439 million capital investment for DOD-owned schools. Separately, Congress allocated $250 million in the current fiscal year to recapitalize elementary and secondary schools operated by local school districts but owned by the federal government, according to the report.

When spending the funds designated for schools operated by local education authorities, DOD should give a priority to schools with the most serious structural deficiencies, the lawmakers stated.

Citing its concern that the department is making redundant investments in microgrid and smart grid technologies for installation and operational energy, the committee requests the department to submit a report describing the microgrid and smart grid projects it is funding, along with an assessment of activities it is pursuing collaboratively with the Energy Department. To streamline DOD’s investments, the report also should describe policy initiatives and activities by the deputy undersecretary for installations and environment, and the assistant secretary for operational energy and plans.

H. Rpt. 112-78 can be found on the Armed Services Committee’s website.

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