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DoD News Briefing - Mr. Ray DuBois, DUSD (Installations and Environment)

Presenters: Mr. Ray DuBois, DUSD (Installations & Environment)
May 03, 2001 3:30 PM EDT

Thursday, May 3, 2001 -- 3:30 p.m. EDT

(Special briefing on energy conservation. Also participating: Randall Yim, deputy under secretary of Defense for Installations, and Navy Captain Kevin Mikula, deputy director for Energy Management.)

Staff: Good afternoon. As you know, the president earlier today directed the heads of the departments and agencies of the federal government to -- both to reduce their use of overall -- overall use of energy where possible and to reduce the peak use of energy where possible. Today we have a special briefing to explain the Department of Defense's contribution to that effort.

The main briefer will be Mr. Ray DuBois, deputy undersecretary of Defense for Installations and the Environment. Also here, Mr. Randall Yim, deputy undersecretary of Defense for Installations, and Captain Kevin Mikula, deputy director for Energy Management. We also have a bluetop and biographies available in the back of the room as you leave.

Mr. DuBois.

DuBois: Thank you. About an hour, hour and a half ago, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz joined Secretary of Energy Abraham, along with the vice president in the Cabinet Room with the president, wherein the president announced the government-wide energy plan for conserving energy, specifically focused on the state of California and the issues that that state faces.

The president did highlight the efforts that the Defense Department is about to undertake. The deputy secretary is signing today a directive to the three service secretaries, three acting service secretaries, to execute plans which the three military departments, in conjunction with Randall Yim's office in the office of the secretary of Defense, have been working on for the past several weeks to reduce the Department of Defense energy consumption at the peak demand by 10 percent this summer, this coming summer, '01, and, through energy investments in more energy-efficient equipment, by 15 percent in the summer of '02.

The Department of Defense is going to invest approximately $32 million in '01 money and $19 million in '02 funds to achieve these energy savings. The energy savings will be focused on three essential areas.

As you might well imagine, energy conservation is first and foremost, energy power generation is second, and investments in energy efficiency is third. The deputy secretary, in the press conference at the White House this afternoon, made the comment that, through these efforts, the Department of Defense was essentially providing a 200- megawatt powerplant for the state of California without building it.

The other issue that I think ought to be highlighted is, of the three categories -- energy conservation, energy efficiency, investments and power generation -- power generation is, in the beginning of this two-and-a-half year effort, a 25 percent contributor to that overall savings. But it declines over time, and therefore energy conservation and energy efficiency is beginning -- a beginning contributor of 75 percent and increasing over time.

The other aspect of this, which I think needs to be emphasized is that the investment of $50 million will leverage over $290 million in private sector investment on issues such as the construction of a co-generation plant, the improvement of a major chilling facility in San Diego. I think that the business-like way that the three military departments, working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, has gone about identifying projects which could yield these kinds of savings -- which, I might add, is on top of the past 10 years wherein the Defense Department has achieved in excess of 23 percent overall savings reduction per square foot -- the business aspect of investing $50 million and yielding -- generating or leveraging over $290 million in private sector investment, as well as by winter '03, a steady state savings in excess of $25 million.

Now, that is extremely important, not just in terms of the savings, but how those savings are going to be used. By legislation and by direction of the secretary of Defense, that nearly over $25 (million) -- nearly $26 million will be reinvested in further energy savings, as well as in quality of life and housing on post.

The president -- I don't know whether you saw it, but he was quite emphatic on the notion that the Defense Department was leading the way. He has instructed the other federal agencies to do the same. The secretary of Energy, Secretary Abraham, is on his way, as we speak, to California to meet with Governor Davis on this issue.

I'd be glad to take any questions.

John?

Q: Power generation by doing what?

DuBois: We have two fixed natural gas power generation plants in California. They are not used -- or run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We will increase, with the permission of the state of California, the Public Utility Commission, the generation of those two fixed natural gas power plants.

There was, as you can imagine, discussion around the possibility of producing power through the utilization of mobile generating power plants. We have decided not to do that, because we can achieve our objectives without cranking up these diesel fuel power plants.

Q: Where the two natural gas power plants?

DuBois: Captain?

Mikula: Onizuka Air Force Base (sic) [Station] and Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Q: Which -- (off mike).

DuBois: They're on Onizuka Air Force Base (sic) [Station] and --

Mikula: And Vandenberg.

DuBois: -- Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Q: There was also talk of using nuclear-powered submarines and ships, which, I gather, the Defense Department thought was ridiculous. Is that correct?

DuBois: Nuclear power has been used in the past, in very, very well defined emergency situations.

Q: Off ships?

DuBois: Off of ships. We have studied this hard. The Department of Energy has studied it. There is legislation, as some of you might know, which precludes the use of nuclear power on board ship in highly populated areas. When a ship comes to -- comes back to port, the power plant is essentially shut down. It's not like you can turn it on halfway; you either turn it on full, or you shut it down. And as you probably know, the nuclear power plants are essentially for propulsion, not for producing electricity pierside. So for the reasons of instability and the reasons of the legislative implications, we've -- we find that inadvisable under the circumstances.

Q: Can you tell us about this wind generation plant that you mentioned, where it's located, and what base is going to be buying power from it?

DuBois: There are discussions -- I was in California, at Fort Irwin, for instance, two weeks ago, and out with the Capstone Division exercise in the desert. And I've got to tell you, the wind was pretty strong. And Fort Irwin, for instance, is looking at a co-venture with a private-sector company of how to create wind generation or produce electricity from wind generation. There are several other posts which are considering this, in conjunction with the private sector.

Q: But I think you mentioned one here where you say it's bit different, because there's a power generation plant that's been unable to sell on the commercial grid economically.

DuBois: Yeah.

Q: But it might be more economic for them to just sell to an adjacent military base?

DuBois: There is -- there happens to be a wind farm, if you will, next to Edwards Air Force Base. It is not clear -- and we are exploring the notion of buying electricity from that wind farm. It is not a definite yet. But I think it's indicative of the creativity, if you will, given by the current investment and the fact that OSD is going to make the investment dollars, that the military departments, the four services have come up with non-fossil fuel alternatives: geothermal, photovoltaic, fuel cells, wind generation. I was rather proud of them in that respect. It wasn't the usual answers.

Q: What are your base lines for achieving -- when you talk about an average reduction of 10 percent in total electricity load, what's the base line you generate now? Is it in megawatts, or could -- I just don't have a feel for that.

DuBois: The Department of Defense has about a 420-megawatt demand at peak. We're looking to reduce that in June, July and August of this year by 42 megawatts. That's the measure; that's the metric. The base line is the summer 2000. So from the peak demand of summer 2000 versus 2001 summer, we're going to bring it down by 10 percent. And then by summer 2002 our objective is then to bring it down another 5 percent for a total of 15 from base line 2000.

Q: Which is 420 megawatts.

DuBois: That's the peak demand of -- in aggregate of all the Department of Defense facilities in California. But we're also -- remember, now, it's important to recognize that the state border of California is not where the Western power grid stops. We've had to step back, and in order to focus on the California issue specifically, look at the Western power grid and see what can -- how we can impact the power grid in toto to then impact the demand within California.

Q: Can you talk for a minute about how the power situation in California is already affecting military bases, if at all? Have you had any rolling blackouts, have you had to trim exercises, training, or operations?

DuBois: The president was quite clear this afternoon. He said all of -- and, of course, this was based on briefing papers that we had worked on -- there will be no operational readiness detriment. That was our lead criterion for this exercise.

To date, no military facility, as far as I know, has been impacted by a rolling blackout. There are, as you know, national security clauses with respect, if you will, military facilities, installations.

I will say this, housing on a military installation ought not be treated any differently than housing across the border -- across the fence in the civilian community.

Q: But it is.

DuBois: We are working towards making certain that those non-national security aspects of military installations are not exempt. We believe, however, through our efforts that we will be able to avoid any rolling blackouts on any part of a military installation.

Q: Don't most military installations have their own independent capability to crank out power? Don't they have back-up generators? But you're not planning on using any of those, except for these two natural gas plants that are used sporadically, is that correct?

DuBois: Right. There's a geothermal plant at China Lake, which we're also going to increase its output. (To staff) Is that correct?

Yim: We're looking to work with the private developer of that -- private owner of that and see if we can augment the power generation.

DuBois: Right. And when I was at Fort Irwin, there was a significant discussion, when we were looking at the housing out there, to provide geothermal energy for the houses that we're in the process of building and rehabing at Fort Irwin.

There are mobile power generators available to us in emergencies.

Q: But you're not going to use them?

DuBois: We don't intend to use them.

Q: So your impact could be substantially more, if you decided to use them?

DuBois: It would also require certain permits from the California Public Utility Commission.

I also want to add something that wasn't raised at the White House, but I think it's important. The Corps of Engineers has been asked -- the United States Army Corps of Engineers has been asked by the state of California to work with their Public Utility Commission to determine whether any special permits needed to be passed, were some of the power-generation companies in California -- San Diego Electric, Pacific Gas and Electric -- wanting to increase the facility that they have, any facility that they might have, for creating further power. So the Corps of Engineers, which, as you know, must issue permits, especially as it pertains to wetlands development, has been closely working with the governor's office. To date, the governor's office has not asked us for any permits, although we have streamlined the process so that if we were to be asked, we could probably execute a permit in less than 30 days.

Again, we're trying to do whatever we can to alleviate the situation in California.

Q: What installations use the most power at peak time, of the 420 megawatts? Can you say like the top four, five?

DuBois: I think you have to consider Southern California, i.e., San Diego and its environs, which is an enormous Marine Corps and Naval interlocking set of facilities, that probably is the majority, the largest, if you want to categorize it as such.

Q: Do you have any interesting examples of energy conservation efforts that have been unveiled at the various bases -- turning lights off earlier than normal or --

DuBois: Part of these investments, quite frankly, is to look at energy management. Part of the investments that OSD has approved will be simple things like energy-efficient light bulbs, that have not been used before. Energy management and energy-efficient equipment are related, but separate, insofar as energy management is how you run your equipment, when you run it, at what peaks do you run it? It's also doing an analysis, energy-demand analysis, of the various facilities and buildings on your installation and determining, again, where can you turn lights off. Some things are rather simple, but unless you spend time and effort and analyze it, and figure out what your result will be, you don't pay attention to it.

Q: You don't have any of those kind of examples yet; you're going to gather those in the next --

DuBois: Each of the facilities in California were asked -- we're trying to push this decision-making process down to the local level -- "If you were to have an investment of X, how would you use it to produce the maximum return on the investment in the fastest amount of time?" Those were the incentives given to the installation commander.

We're going to have an installation commanders or installation Vision Conference, 16, 17 May, that Randall Yim is running, and this will be one of the topics that we'll discuss, because as a practical matter, our energy conservation measures, given what we have learned in the last four weeks in this analytic exercise, we intend to overlay to the rest of the country to determine where the Department of Defense can, again, save energy, not just in California or not just in the Western power grid.

Q: Well, what -- have the -- what have been the emerging, quick-look results of the department's conservation efforts in California? I mean, are you fairly energy inefficient in your use --

DuBois: No. In fact, as I mentioned, when you look back over the past 10 years and figure that we've reduced by, on a square footage basis, 23 percent, the low-hanging fruit has already been plucked. These are less easy efforts.

Q: More difficult.

Q: The entire effort here you call "energy conservation". What it really is is electricity conservation. You are not trying to reduce your massive use of fossil fuels for vehicles, for airplanes, for ships, any of those things that are energy conservation. Your focus is entirely on the electrical grid --

DuBois: Our focus is on peak demand reduction from the commercial power grid. Because as --

Q: Because California is a disaster area in terms of managing its own electrical grid.

DuBois: Right. Even though the Department of Defense is the largest consumer as an entity of electricity in California, it only contributes 1 percent of the peak demand. In other words, it only contributes -- it only accounts for 1 percent of the totality of the state of California.

What am I saying? That even though we're the largest consumer as an entity, the consumer, Mr. and Mrs. California, are by far the largest consumer of electricity.

So our 10 percent, while impressive in terms of DoD, in the totality of California's problem -- as the vice president said, we're not going to conserve our way out of this problem. But this is, from our standpoint, good business, because we're going to take those savings and re-invest it in further savings as well as in quality of life issues.

Yes, ma'am.

Q: What correlation, if any, is there between these new efforts and the ongoing look to privatize utilities within the Department of Defense?

DuBois: That's a question I don't -- I'm not capable of answering.

Q: How many people does this affect, and what is the DoD population in California? Do you have any sense?

DuBois: I don't have a sense of that. I can find out. I was asked the other day for -- by a member of Congress for a distribution of DoD personnel in the United States. And I had to ask the question, people in uniform, civilians, dependents, on post, off post? And I'm --

Q: I mean, are you going to be asking them to do things like have really hot offices and housing?

DuBois: Well, I will say this. The president this afternoon instructed Andy Card, who was sitting across the table, his chief of staff, to determine what could be done in the White House with respect to energy conservation, and that -- but that's what the secretary of Defense has said here, too. Of course, we're dealing with a building renovation that will go on for, what, until 2015?

Anything else?

Q: Thank you.

DuBois: Thank you very much.

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