Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany was one of six Marine Corps installations to achieve Platinum level in its Annual Energy and Water Management Report as part of the Secretary of the Navy’s Energy Excellence Awards Program for Fiscal Year 2020.
“Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany is very innovative and advanced. It keeps us in the spotlight,” said Bryan Henderson, director, Installation and Environment Division, MCLB Albany. “It makes us a role model for the rest of the Department of Defense for achieving what we have achieved.”
Marine Corps Installations Command performs an evaluation of each installation’s AEWMR to assess program performance and to inform the award program. The highest achieving submissions from the large installations, defined by energy consumption greater than 500,000 MBTUs, or 1,000 British thermal units, and the small installations, or energy consumption of less than 500,000 MBTUs, are nominated for consideration.
In order to determine an installation’s achievement level, categorized as Platinum, Gold or Blue, the AEWMR assesses program performance in energy security planning in support of mission assurance, continuity of operations and sustainment of critical installation services along with the traditional review of intensity reduction and efficiency efforts.
“Meeting or exceeding these standards ensures Marine Corps installations can continue to provide the power needed for our missions to remain resilient during periods of disruption from commercial energy supplies,” MARADMIN 547/20 states.
There is a winner declared for both categories. The winner in the large category for FY 2020 was Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms in California. The small installation winner was Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.
The AEWMR scorecard shows MCLB Albany was graded in seven program management areas including policy, reporting, energy education, innovation and collaboration, resilience requirements assessment, demand management and efficiency audits. The base achieved a Platinum rating in all areas with the exception of energy education, for which it was rated Gold.
“There are 19 Marine Corps bases that all compete for this,” Eddie Hunt, energy manager, MCLB Albany, said. “We fill out 25 pages of a report that tells how we are doing. They take that and go through it and grade us. Whoever has the most points wins.”
Hunt said MCLB Albany missed the small installation win by two points.
“We have won this award six times. When we don’t win, we are on the Platinum level,” he added. “I don’t think of it as a loss; Platinum is still really good.”
The Platinum level indicates the highest standards in energy security program management and exceptional performance during the reporting period. The Gold level indicates outstanding energy security program management and excellent performance during the reporting period. The Blue level indicates the minimum standard for energy security program management and adequate performance, MARADMIN 547/20 explains.
The energy program at MCLB Albany began in 2005. It is divided into three pillars: energy security, energy resiliency and energy efficiency.
Hunt said there has been a recent shift in focus that leans more toward energy resiliency rather than energy reduction. Energy resiliency reflects the installation’s ability to bounce back and restore power after natural disaster strikes, and preserves information assurance in the event of an attack.
“We are much further down the road in energy reduction than before,” he said. “Our goal is to be ready in case we have an outage.”
Resiliency can keep the mission of MCLB Albany going while the world around the installation is still out.
“We are almost where we can be totally resilient,” Hubert “Ski” Smigelski, deputy director, I&E Division, MCLB Albany, said.
A program was developed, refined and implemented that has the base on track to reach Net Zero in early 2021. The installation will be the first in the Marine Corps to achieve Net Zero energy status.
In Net Zero, MCLB Albany will produce as much electricity from renewable energy sources as it consumes. The installation will no longer be dependent on the electrical grid.
“Hopefully next year we will be Net Zero, so we will do well (in the awards program) then,” Hunt said.
Hunt added, without a doubt, the steps toward achieving Net Zero is what makes the base stand out in energy performance.
“I don’t know if anyone else is close except for us,” he said.
Becoming Net Zero is thought of as a crowning achievement.
“Once completed, it will be the icing on the cake,” Smigelski said.
MCLB Albany is currently the first in the Marine Corps to have a fully functional and accredited Facilities Related Controls System. The installation has a large portfolio of cutting-edge energy technologies to reduce overall energy consumption, including Bore Hole Thermal Energy Storage, a steam-to-electric 8.5-megawatt generator, FRCS and landfill gas generators producing four megawatts of energy for Production Plant Albany.
The plant is a part of Marine Depot Maintenance Command, a subordinate to Marine Corps Logistics Command, a tenant of MCLB Albany.
MCICOM is considering MCLB Albany a test site for standardizing components of FRCS.
“We are the only base in the Marine Corps to test this out,” Smigelski said.
Henderson said the base has developed a reputation for its innovators who “break the code” when it comes to new technology.
“These folks have done a marvelous job of doing that,” he said. “They have become the experts in breaking the code.”
Henderson said the FRCS plays a large role in managing energy consumption load.
“We are taking it to the next step,” he said.
Data from the FRCS offers a look at the state of equipment in a facility. Implemented within PPA, FRCS indicates when a piece of equipment needs maintenance before it breaks down.
It is expected the FRCS technology will eventually be standardized to support different functions, while helping save taxpayer dollars by relying on preventative maintenance rather than breakdown maintenance.
“Right now, it is strictly facilities related, but we will later break into the larger picture of supporting MARCORLOGCOM,” Smigelski said. “We are just at the beginning of this thing.”
Aboard MCLB Albany are diesel back-up generators that can offer a total of 7-megawatts of electricity over 27 generators situated across the base, a capacity that helps cover servers, communications, family housing, the Base Headquarters Building and Commissary. In addition to this, Albany Green Energy, an Exelon-Constellation biomass energy plant, uses wood waste to produce steam energy which is sold to Procter & Gamble, Georgia Power and MCLB Albany.
Many of these projects, including the landfill gas generator and the biomass plant, are beneficial to those outside the fence line. Such initiatives help MCLB Albany be a strong community partner and good neighbor.
“The DOD is sometimes looked at as a major polluter,” Henderson said. “Without the landfill gas generator the gas would be vented into the atmosphere – so we are helping the county”
Also on MCLB Albany is a solar farm. Georgia Power leased 150 acres from government to build and operate the solar farm for 37 years. The base received a power line going from the Georgia Power substation at the northwest corner of the installation to its main substation. This provides the base with a back-up circuit if the main feed goes down. Georgia Power has offered to connect MCLB Albany to the solar field at a cost between $5-8 million.
There are also solar panels on top of the base’s bachelor quarters and on an adjacent pavilion and all gate houses.
The plan at MCLB Albany moving forward is to continue pursuing prospects for improving both resiliency and efficiency.
“The thing is to keep going, even when we hit Net Zero, and we will keep going,” Hunt said. “We are doing the best we can to be the most resilient base in the Marine Corps. We can keep it going; make it even better.”
As such, innovation will continue to move forward.
“We are considering new technology and considering how we can use it,” Henderson said. “We have had bumps along the road, but I think challenges are what makes us stronger. We are working to clear these technologies for the DOD, so we are willing to bear the burden so everything will to fall into place.”