The Army is eager is to collaborate with the private sector to increase its reliance on renewable energy, but needs to finish preparing a clearly defined acquisition strategy that industry is comfortable with before moving ahead.
“We want to ensure that we are easier to deal with than maybe we have been in the past,” Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment, said Thursday at a media event held in conjunction with an industry summit held earlier that day at the Washington Navy Yard.
The key is developing a consistent and transparent acquisition process that developers, investors and financiers will find attractive, officials said.
“We’d like to produce a renewable energy factory,” Richard Kidd, deputy assistant secretary for energy and sustainability, said of the Army’s goal of crafting a replicable process for deploying financing authorities, contract vehicles and technologies.
The biggest step the Army has taken toward its goal of using third-party financing to build large-scale renewable energy projects on its installations was the recent creation of its Energy Initiatives Task Force. The task force, formally established on Sept. 15, will serve as the Army’s central office to plan and execute projects larger than 10 megawatts.
The office is made up of staff with expertise in a range of disciplines needed for energy development, including real estate, acquisition, finance, technology and installation management. That approach was patterned after the one the service successfully employed to carry out the privatization of its family housing and lodging, Hammack said. Those two initiatives — the Residential Communities Initiative and Privatization of Army Lodging — demonstrated that the Army has the capacity to carry out large-scale, public-private partnerships, she added.
MATOC to Hit Street in Early 2012
Officials were able to roll out some elements of their initial acquisition approach. The Army will advertise a request for proposals for a multiple-award, task-order contract (MATOC) in the first quarter of calendar year 2012. One year later, the Army expects to select several firms for the contract, and in early 2013, the winners will compete for the first task orders.
“[But] that’s only one piece,” John Lushetsky, executive director of the task force, said of the acquisition strategy. Officials will consider other mechanisms to promote private sector investment prior to 2013, including “one-off” acquisitions.
“We haven’t ruled out anything yet,” he said.
Because of the long timeline to develop energy projects, one priority will be accelerating 20 projects already in the pipeline, including ones at Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Irwin, Calif.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; and Tooele Army Depot, Utah. Those projects may be advanced through contract mechanisms separate from the MATOC, Kidd said.
The Army’s long-term goal is to attain 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, a milestone requiring the service to acquire an estimated 2.1 million megawatt hours a year of renewable energy in collaboration with the private sector. “That’s a fairly short time frame,” Hammack noted.