The decentralized energy system at Fort Knox is the only one of its kind DoD-wide. Running at a much higher efficiency level than its centralized counterparts, the installation system is a much greener solution to power distribution.

Defense and industry leaders and experts engaged in discussions on a wide range of topics, including the Army Climate Strategy, Strategic Energy and Water Plans and Resourcing, and sharing of best practices at the first-ever Army Materiel Command Energy and Utilities Summit held Dec. 15-16.

Gen. Ed Daly, commander of Army Materiel Command, explained that having representatives from DOD, Army and the AMC enterprise at the summit and online was important to building a common understanding of energy policy and strategy, and the framework and specific tools that can be used to execute that strategy.

“The operationalization of energy at installations is absolutely critical,” Daly said. “We have to have resilient, hardened and modernized installations to project power and protect our force.”

Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Paul Farnan said the Army is changing how it is thinking about energy, describing it as a combat enabler.

“Energy is not just a commodity – energy enables power projection,” Farnan said. “We are never again going to fight a war with an uncontested homeland. Everything we do starts here at our installations, and everything we do on our installations requires energy.”

He explained the Army faces a variety of energy and water challenges across its worldwide portfolio of installations and Organic Industrial Base sites, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for achieving energy resiliency.

“The less energy we use, the more resilient we are,” Farnan said. “We are building for tomorrow, not today.”

The Army is assessing energy efficiency across all installations and continues to invest significant time and resources operationally and on installations worldwide in support of Army priorities and the Army Installations Strategy. Achieving energy resiliency, affordability and sustainability will require a mix of multiple solutions executed in partnership with installations, local communities and commercial energy providers.

Industry representatives from 14 companies joined the summit Dec. 16 to speak directly with Army leaders about partnership opportunities and to understand the Army’s perspective as outlined in the Army Campaign Plan, Army Installations Strategy, Army Climate Strategy, and Installation Energy and Water Strategic Plan.

“We have got to figure out new and innovative ways of doing business,” Daly said, emphasizing the need to work collaboratively with local communities and power providers. “The only way we are going to do this is together.”

The Army continues to explore the use of energy partnerships with local governments and power providers, including through Energy Savings Performance Contracts and Utility Energy Savings Contracts. Daly said there are 208 ESPCs and UESCs already in place, with over 30 more in the works for this fiscal year.

“Commander engagement is critical. We’re going to hold the garrison commanders accountable, responsible and knowledgeable for business plans,” Lt. Gen. Doug Gabram, commander of Installation Management Command, said.

In the past five years, energy programs, partnerships and initiatives recognized a cost avoidance or savings of more than 14% across the Army, and every installation has added a full-time energy manager position.

Another topic of discussion was how to develop a comprehensive approach to mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing usage and investing in renewable energy. Farnan said he expects the Army Climate Strategy to be published early next year, aligning the Army’s strategy with DOD, and administration climate policy and goals.

“How we change, how we work every day is going to be affected,” Farnan said. “Carbon free is what we’re shooting for.”

One area where the Army is working to drive down energy consumption is in the electrification of its fleet of about 25,000 non-tactical vehicles. Daly directed garrison commanders to have charging stations at every installation by October.

Daly said the Army should have renewable energy at every installation by fiscal year 2028 to 2030.

“We need to be bold and innovative to maximize the effects we are trying to achieve,” he said. “Now the real work begins.”

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