Joseph Sikes, Director of Facilities Energy Privatization, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, emphasized the main objective of Department of Defense (DoD) energy projects—to do the mission better. Recent initiatives have included expanding the use of renewables, installing microgrids, and technology development. At the end of the year, all of the military services will report data on energy use. This information will be put into an online database to increase visibility. An annual energy management report is expected to be released in March 2013, in which all bases will be listed by energy-intensity and energy-reduction targets. Sikes noted that facilities use 20 to 25 percent of DoD energy. The energy-intensity metric (British thermal units per square foot) is far from ideal, but “one we are stuck with.” Unless it is adjusted for changes in external factors, it can give the wrong answer. For instance, when soldiers return from deployments overseas, energy use on U.S. bases goes up, even if the buildings have become more efficient. In that case, British thermal units per person would be a better metric. Also, consolidation of data centers or demolition of unneeded buildings, which can be desirable from an efficiency point of view, reduces the overall square footage and therefore increases the energy-intensity metric. Most of the direct spending on energy within DoD is on expanding renewable-energy projects. In principle, renewables provide a distributed source of energy at a base, and so a base is more secure in a crisis if it is set up so that it can be switched from the grid to a local microgrid on the base. Unfortunately, we are not there yet, and the renewable projects do not pay back the investment unless the bases are on islands (e.g., Kwajalein, Shemya, Diego Garcia) or are otherwise difficult to supply (e.g., Djibouti).
Sikes related that considerable gains in reducing energy use can be made just by gridding the generators on a base so that energy output can be tuned to the electricity demand. The Navy has done considerable work on optimal gridding of shipboard generators. Another opportunity involves peak shaving and demand-side management, in which bases can save a lot of money by working with local utilities. He also noted that there is a memorandum of understanding among major federal agencies (including the Department of Energy [DOE], the DoD, and the Department of Homeland Security) to promote emergency-management cooperation with local authorities, and that military bases are working more closely with government and private entities outside the base. If closer cooperation could be established between the DoD, local energy utilities, and federal regulators of local utilities, then some of these costs could be reduced at many installations. The local utilities are not depending on the fees from the bases, but they have to keep a higher capacity level by law because the solar capacity is not counted.