By Mr. Timothy Sandland, 102nd Intelligence Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 28, 2016
OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- The 102nd Intelligence Wing hosted a number of high-ranking military and government officials as well as innovators from several high-tech energy companies during a leadership summit here Oct. 25, focusing on the upcoming Otis microgrid project.
Among those in attendance was Honorable Miranda Ballentine, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy, Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, Director of the Air National Guard and Congressman Bill Keating of Massachusetts.
Speaking on the project, Secretary Ballentine said, "The resilient energy system project at Otis ANG Base is an excellent example of innovative airmen driving mission assurance through energy assurance. The 102nd Intelligence Wing has critical missions requiring uninterrupted access to electricity." She went on to say, "By integrating renewable energy, advanced energy storage, and innovative controls, this system will provide vital capabilities to our warfighters and intelligence professionals."
The project team, led by Maj. Shawn Doyle of the 102nd Civil Engineer Squadron, used the summit to brief Secretary Ballentine and other leaders on the inspiration for the microgrid, the partnerships and dynamics throughout the initial planning stages, as well as the details of the 35% design review that had been conducted the day before.
Maj. Doyle said, "There is an atmosphere, a culture here at the base, of energy awareness - we've done almost 3 million dollars of energy infrastructure upgrades on the base - largely they've been funded by other organizations, like the National Guard, so they haven't cost us anything but are saving us hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs."
The project, was initially conceived at the grass-roots level through discussions between Doyle and Mr. Alf Carroll and Patrick Day of Raytheon. As discussions grew, and people like Dave Altman of from Raytheon joined the conversation, the microgrid idea began to take shape. Not long after, an opportunity in the form of a 6 million dollar grant was received from the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program. ESTCP was established in 1995 to improve environmental performance throughout the DOD, reducing costs, and enhancing and sustaining mission capabilities.
Over time, as the project grew in scope, the team was joined by and will be ultimately successful through the contributions of many military and civilian partners.
From a military perspective, the 102nd Civil Engineers will be joined by fellow Otis ANG Base units, the 102nd Communications Flight and the 212th Engineering Installation Squadron, as well as the Rhode Island-based 249th Engineer Battalion Delta Company of the U.S. Army Reserves, who will participate in the construction-phase of the project. Additionally, expertise and innovation will come from project partners like the aforementioned Raytheon, along with personnel from MIT Lincoln Laboratory, ISO New England, NREL, Eversource, Page International and Ecoult - all represented at the summit.
Lt. Gen. Rice, speaking in terms of conservation said, "The U.S. Air Force, which includes the Guard, Reserves and Active Duty, consumes more natural resources than any other entity in the world." Rice went on to say, "when you look at that you go 'well, that's a pretty daunting thing, for us to get some of that under control, because we don't want to see in our lifetime, our kids lifetime, or our grandkids lifetime, an end of that resource' - so this is an imperative for us."
The microgrid will provide for an energy capability almost exclusively based on renewable energy while also ensuring a high-level of grid security. In addition to providing energy resiliency for the 102nd Intelligence Wing's mission, the Otis Microgrid will increase the base's value to the NGB, state and Federal Government. It will create energy research opportunities and attract investment in the base infrastructure as well as providing a key opportunity to enable joint military training - something the National Guard and Reserves are always looking for to boost their capabilities.
On top of all that, the project reduces the reliance on fossil fuels and takes advantage of renewable resources such as wind. In addition to the real benefits seen here on Cape Cod, the microgrid will give the DOD and Department of Energy a solid test bed to better understand energy resilience and security and will serve to educate the agencies through technical and economic studies.
Speaking on the topic of security, Congressman Keating, who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, remarked, "the committee has identified 16 critical sectors and one of them clearly deals with the energy sector and if we ever get into the stage of the unthinkable, we want to make sure that our national defense infrastructure is in place and is self-sufficient"
The summit was lauded by those who participated, as a great opportunity to meet and share ideas and philosophies on energy resiliency and security, and specifically how it relates to this project. With an event of this scope, making sure the many-involved entities are on the same page is a critical necessity.