The Air Force is contemplating the use of a single provider to support its push to achieve energy resiliency, a strategy that would allow it to avoid the arduous efforts now required to launch any one renewable energy project.
Under an “energy-as-a-service” approach, the Air Force’s service provider would be responsible for combining the various procurement tools — including enhanced use leasing and energy savings performance contracts — officials currently rely on to develop renewable energy sources or build a microgrid.
“It’s very piecemeal right now,” Mark Correll, deputy assistant secretary for environment, safety and infrastructure, told attendee at the Defense Communities 2016 National Summit on Tuesday. “On one base, you’ll find privatized utilities, so I’ve got much better infrastructure than I had before, but there’s nothing with regard to distributed generation. If you go to another base like Nellis, there are two distributed generation systems, but only one of them is dedicated to us when we need it.”
The provider likely would be a partnership between a traditional electric utility and a private or nonprofit energy service company (ESCO), Correll said, reported Federal News Radio. Air Force thinking on the new approach still is in the very early stages.
The Air Force has undertaken more than 300 renewable energy projects, with many of them requiring negotiations with local electric companies, state utility regulators, energy developers and financiers revolving around a variety of legal authorities. Moving to a single provider, ideally, would free the Air Force from much of that legwork.
“At least in the beginning, my personal assessment is that neither the utility nor the ESCO can do it alone,” Correll said. “We’re going to have to have a utility lead it because we’re going to have to have someone to deal with state utility commissions, and then we’re going to need an ESCO to bring together all the authorities we have.”