Energy Management in DOD Facilities
The Department of Defense (DOD) is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, spending billions of dollars each year to power its permanent military installations around the world. As threats to energy resources increase, DOD’s energy planning is key to ensuring successful missions in the future.
To successfully execute its missions, DOD's facilities must have the energy resources necessary to operate. This is important today, but also in a future world where there is increasing competition for resources. DOD’s planning is focused on these three major areas:
Energy sustainability: DOD has a strategic goal to reduce energy demand and consider sustainability, including climate change adaptation, in its facility investment decisions. The department was on track to meet its fiscal year 2015 sustainability goals concerning use of renewable energy, reduction in facility water usage, and other categories. However, DOD was not on track to meet its goals related to sustainable buildings and reduction in facility energy consumption, among others. Incorporating sustainability into DOD planning and decision-making will enable the department to address current and emerging mission needs and consider future challenges.
Energy security: DOD reported in 2011 that its dependence on the commercial electricity grid for facilities’ energy leaves the department vulnerable to service disruptions and places the continuity of critical missions at risk. As such, DOD’s energy management strategy seeks to, among other actions, increase the supply of renewable and alternative energy sources and improve energy security by addressing the threat of commercial grid disruption with on-site generation capacity. However, as of September 2016, only 2 of 17 large renewable energy generation projects on DOD installations had the capability to provide electricity to the installation in the event of a grid disruption without additional steps. Moreover, DOD’s collection and reporting of utility disruption data is not comprehensive and contains inaccuracies, hindering DOD’s ability to plan effectively for mitigating against utility disruption. Additionally, the military services remain at risk for potentially underfunding energy infrastructure investments because there is no clarity regarding the role that energy security plays when evaluating a project for funding.
Renewable energy: DOD must adhere to several government-wide renewable energy goals to encourage the increased use of energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind power. However, DOD faces three key challenges in meeting these renewable energy goals.
- 1. Land use conflicts. The way that DOD installations use land may sometimes be incompatible with renewable energy projects. For example, aircraft training operations may not be able to share space with wind turbines.
- 2. Cost effectiveness. DOD guidance calls for investment in cost effective energy projects, but renewable energy is often more expensive than nonrenewable energy. In addition, without clear and complete documentation analyzing the costs and benefits of renewable energy projects, DOD may approve projects that are not cost effective.
- 3. Limitations on private partnerships. DOD plans to enter into partnerships with private industry, such as local electric utilities, to develop renewable energy projects. However, these may be limited by several factors, including the possibility that energy produced by private partnership projects may not count toward DOD’s renewable energy goals.
GAO-16-487: Published: Sep 8, 2016. Publicly Released: Sep 8, 2016.
The Department of Defense (DOD) has emphasized working with private developers using a variety of alternative financing mechanisms—that is, agreements with private developers to pay back the costs of the projects over time—to develop renewable energy projects greater than 1 megawatt. According to DOD officials, DOD works with private developers because doing so gives DOD several advantages. Fo...
GAO-16-162: Published: Jan 29, 2016. Publicly Released: Jan 29, 2016.
The Department of Defense (DOD) collects information on how Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP) projects are expected to perform when operational, including anticipated returns on investment and energy or water savings. While DOD annually notifies congressional committees of proposed ECIP projects and includes some of this performance information with the notification, it does not do so...
GAO-16-164: Published: Jan 27, 2016. Publicly Released: Jan 27, 2016.
The Department of Defense's (DOD) fiscal year 2013 Annual Energy Management Report (Energy Report) addressed some of the required reporting elements and correctly incorporated data from the military services and defense agencies. However, the report is not fully reliable because the data were captured and reported using different methods, hindering comparability across the department. Specifically...
GAO-15-749: Published: Jul 23, 2015. Publicly Released: Jul 23, 2015.
Department of Defense (DOD) installations have experienced utility disruptions resulting in operational and fiscal impacts due to hazards such as mechanical failure and extreme weather. Threats, such as cyber attacks, also have the potential to cause disruptions. In its June 2014 Annual Energy Management Report (Energy Report) to Congress, DOD reported 180 utility disruptions lasting 8 hours or lo...
GAO-12-401: Published: Apr 4, 2012. Publicly Released: Apr 4, 2012.
To finance renewable energy projects, the military services use up-front appropriations, such as operation and maintenance funds, and alternative-financing approaches that generally rely on private capital, such as arranging financing and implementing a project with a private developer or utility. The military services have funded about 85 percent of nearly 600 projects that were in design, under...