Fueling Up

By John Liang / March 29, 2011 at 6:33 PM

The Defense Department fell short of many of its fiscal year 2010 energy reduction and renewable energy goals established by law or executive order, but far exceeded a 2010 goal for lowering its water consumption, Defense Environment Alert reports today, citing testimony submitted to the Senate earlier this month by a high-level Pentagon official.

"Although the department is steadily improving its installation energy performance, we have failed to meet key statutory and regulatory goals for the last two years," Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment Dorothy Robyn states in written testimony submitted to the Senate Armed Services readiness and management support subcommittee for a hearing that was held March 17 on military construction, environmental and base realignment and closure programs. Specifically:

Overall, the entire Defense Department lowered its energy intensity by 11.2 percent between 2005 and 2010, missing a goal of 15 percent reduction, according to Robyn. Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, DOD is to lower its energy intensity, measured in British Thermal Units per square foot, by 3 percent per year, or 30 percent overall, from the baseline year of 2003 to 2015.

A key factor in missing this goal resulted from the demands placed on the Army to move troops and equipment to and from Afghanistan and Iraq and to complete the base closure process, where in some cases, the Army has been running electricity in both the closing facilities and the facilities it is transitioning to, Robyn says. The news comes as the Army less than a year ago publicly said it had fallen behind in FY-09 in meeting the energy goals for both energy conservation and renewable energy purchases at its facilities, prompting staff to notify senior leaders that more was needed to advance efforts to meet the goals. . . .

During oral testimony before the subcommittee March 17, Robyn noted that DOD is working on a guidance to require the services to meter a higher fraction of their buildings' energy consumption, something she said the Navy is already doing. "We are very data starved," she said, adding that this is an area where DOD needs to know how much it is consuming in order to make progress. DOD is also leading an effort to launch an energy management system that cuts across the services, she told the subcommittee.

Meanwhile, on the renewable energy front, DOD increased its consumption of renewable energy to 4.1 percent, but fell short of a goal under the Energy Policy Act (EPACT) of 2005 to have at least 5 percent of its electricity use come from renewable energy by 2010, Robyn states. Under EPACT, DOD must meet the 5 percent mark in renewable electricity purchases in 2010-2012, and then must increase its use of renewable energy to 7.5 percent of total electricity consumption in 2013 and beyond. Also, under defense law, it is to produce or procure 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of 2025. DOD, however, is on target to meet this latter goal, Robyn's testimony states.

The Air Force appears to be on track with regard to both the renewable energy and reduced energy intensity goals. The service contends it has already lowered its facility energy use by nearly 15 percent from 2003 levels, according to written testimony submitted March 17 to the same subcommittee by Air Force Assistant Secretary for Installations, Environment and Logistics Terry Yonkers. In addition, he states the Air Force exceeded its goals "and produced or procured nearly 7 percent of our total facility energy from renewable sources," leading among the services as the top purchaser of renewable energy for the fifth year in a row.

The news on renewable energy purchasing comes as DOD has just released an acquisition rule that gives DOD longer-term contract authority to purchase renewable energy electricity, but sources doubt it will spur significant industry interest in making such contracts, saying much longer contract terms than the 10 years allowed are needed. . . .

DOD says it also failed to achieve its target to lower its consumption of petroleum by non-tactical vehicles. "DOD achieved a 6.6 percent reduction in its petroleum use from the 2005 baseline, compared to the target of 10 percent," Robyn states in her written testimony. Under a 2009 executive order, DOD is to reduce its consumption of petroleum in non-tactical vehicles by 30 percent by FY20, as compared to FY05.

"The Department continues to pursue replacement of non-tactical fleet vehicles with more efficient models, alternative fuel vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles to decrease petroleum fuel demand," Robyn's testimony reads.

To get back on track in meeting its energy mandates, DOD plans to use a combination of government funds and alternative financing mechanisms, recognizing that "[t]he amount of investment needed to fully fund requirements to meet energy mandates far exceeds the amount of available appropriated DoD funding," a DOD spokeswoman stated in a written response to questions.

At the same time, DOD "far exceeded" its goal for 2010 to lower its potable water consumption, according to the spokeswoman. It lowered its potable water consumption intensity by 13 percent from 2007 to 2010, as compared to the goal of 6 percent, she wrote. In contrast, from 2007 to 2009, DOD lowered its water consumption at its facilities by 4.6 percent. "This dramatic improvement is due to the combination of an aggressive program to detect leaks followed up by a program to repair them," she wrote. Under an executive order, DOD must reduce its water consumption intensity by 16 percent by the end of FY-15, using an FY-03 baseline.

Executive orders require DOD to meet a goal of reducing potable water consumption intensity by 2 percent per year, with the latest order requiring these reductions to occur through FY-20, using a baseline year of 2007.