We were talking just the other day about the challenges the Army has in making itself more energy efficient and lessening its dependence on petroleum, but service officials say they're locked in: Army Secretary John McHugh announced Thursday that he is standing up a new task force that will serve as a "a one-stop shop for the private sector, so we can better harness the expertise of those who can invest and build economically viable, large scale renewable energy infrastructure on Army installations."
The new Energy Initiatives Office Task Force, which will be in place by Sept. 15, is "integral to the Army addressing rising energy security challenges, escalating fuel prices, and stricter federal mandates," according to a DoD announcement, and here's why:
“The Energy Initiatives Office Task Force will help the Army build resilience through renewable energy while streamlining our business practices so developers can invest in and build an economically viable, large-scale renewable energy infrastructure,” said McHugh, “To meet a goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025, the Army must use every opportunity to be energy efficient and draw power from alternative and/or renewable energy sources.”Will it work? Maybe -- the services' enduring interest in alternative energy means it will likely remain a continued source of spending even in Austerity America, for the ironic reason that it offers the prospect to lower future costs. (Spending now to "save" money tomorrow is the Pentagon way.) Where there's money, industry will follow, and who knows what kind of ideas it may come up with to get better about using energy.
The scale of renewable energy production the Army needs in order to provide enhanced energy security is estimated to require investment up to $7.1billion over the next 10 years. This level of investment is expected to generate 2.1 million megawatt hours of power annually for the Army.
The EIO Task Force will work within the Army to streamline existing acquisition processes and leverage industry for the execution of large-scale renewable and alternative energy projects on Army installations. Army installations currently are pursuing renewable energy infrastructure, but often lack needed expertise. The EIO Task Force will fill this expertise gap and provide resources focused on working with the private sector to execute large-scale renewable energy projects. This is expected to result in increased interest by project developers and improved financial options for the Army.