I had the opportunity to interview a few key players discussing the Army’s energy security mission. On the call were; U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Howard Bromberg, Commanding General, Fort Bliss; U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, Deputy Chief of Staff, G3, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command; Mr. Jerry Hansen, Army Senior Energy Executive, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Strategic Infrastructure; Dr. Kevin Geiss, Program Director for Energy Security.
Mr. Hansen defined the Army energy security mission as: “Make energy a consideration for all Army activities to reduce demand, increase efficiency, seek alternative sources, and create a culture of energy accountability while sustaining or enhancing operational capabilities.”
I asked Gen. Bromberg, “Are there any programs out there specifically for military families on the installations to become aware of their power consumption?”.
Gen. Bromberg responded specifically about Ft. Bliss with, “We are just in the infancy stages of that. What we've recently -- through the energy symposium, we have a business partner that has come on and actually offered to take four homes from a partner. These are military family homes, and convert those to solar and still leave them fully functional, the goal is to take them off the grid totally for a period of the next year and have them on the solar panels, and let them help record feedback and experience how you can actually power your home quite satisfactorily off solar. They'll have the ability, obviously, if they have problems, just to go back to the grid if necessary, so we've identified those four homes and we're under way now of actually putting those four homes totally on solar power.
Additionally, we've just signed our contract for recycling for curbside recycling, so actually we'll have the blue buckets in everybody's house so families and soldiers can get involved with everything from recycling through solar. Again, we're just in the starting phases. Our MWR program, as well as our partnership with AAFES and the commissary allows for community involvement. We've asked them to, obviously, not just push the green bags and get people not to use plastic bags and paper. They're actually going to go to incentives for us, so if you use a recyclable bag or a green bag in the PX, you can get a nickel off or something like that, so we can start just getting people to start thinking about being green.
We've partnered with the University of Texas at El Paso, with their department to come and look at all our landscaping, to see if there's smarter things we can do in terms of landscaping and try to bring the whole culture of the environment to the post.” Dr. Geiss added, “I just want to mention that we do have installations, in particular out in Hawaii, the garrison out there, where the privatized family housing has solar hot water and solar power on -- I think actually a few hundred homes, so we do have examples of that other places in the Army.
We have also looked at doing mock billing to the families to make sure that they're aware of what their usage is and looking at incentives for whether they use more or less than what the baseline would be, so that is something that we're considering at other installations. We have also looked at doing mock billing to the families to make sure that they're aware of what their usage is and looking at incentives for whether they use more or less than what the baseline would be, so that is something that we're considering at other installations.”
Gen. Bromberg was asked how far along he felt Fort Bliss was from being Net-Zero, that is, an installation which produces as much energy as it consumes. He responded with, “Well, I think we're still in the early stages of it, if you use the Army terminology, it is a crawl, walk, run, we're still in the crawl phase as an organization.”
This Rountable was very inspiring as our nation moves forward to becoming more efficient and Net-Zero aware. The US military often leads in new technology that will be followed by other industries. Throughout the discussion it was very clear that in order to become more efficient, the Army has to become creative. I dare say that it seems Gen. Bromberg has quite an entrepreneurial spirit that has aided Ft. Bliss goal of becoming Net-Zero. The members of this Roundtable obviously shared a similar goal and direction. I certainly hope the military allows for development and growth in this arena.
In the end I feel that Gen. Pittard summed up the need to create a culture of energy accountability by stating, “It's the right thing to do. And it's more than just the Army; it's the right thing to do for our nation.”
Photo Credit: DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Howard Bromberg, Commanding General, Fort Bliss
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, Deputy Chief of Staff, G3, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command