Not counting military construction and special projects, the majority of Navy Region Southwest Commander's funds spent in a year is on utilities including water and electricity.
“We need to get that under control,” said Rear Adm. Patrick Lorge, commander of Navy Region Southwest at the National Defense Industry Association’s Navy Gold Coast conference Wednesday.
How does the Navy Mayor plan to rein in these costs on the 10 bases throughout his six state-region encompassing California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado?
He’s no stranger to this digital, efficiency-based electricity platform, having transitioned Naval District Washington from an old school system to a smart-grid platform in his previous post as commandant of NDW.
This system is now being used as a model for the rest of the Navy.
Lorge said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment Dennis McGinn recently instructed the Southwest Region to figure out how to adopt what NDW did with its smart grid.
He said the impetus for change came to him one evening while driving back to the Navy Yard in D.C. with his family.
“I look up and see all these federal buildings -- and it’s probably 9:30 or 10 at night -- and they are all turned on,” Lorge said. “I mean every light is on, every floor is lit up and I know the HVAC’s running, and I’m looking at the waste, getting really frustrated.”
The situation on base was no better, so he took action. With the help of a large team including military personnel, universities and businesses large and small, NDW is now not only able to better manage and monitor its utility use to do things such as turn off the lights at night and allocate resources effectively for peak and nonpeak use, but also added operational and geospatial components to the system.
The operational piece entails security cameras, a better communications system and video monitoring based on certain cues -- for example, the cameras can be programmed to detect when someone walks in the opposite direction of where they should be going, and then send an alert through the communication system that will pop up in any relevant operation center.
The NDW smart grid is also geospatial compliant, meaning it can all interface with Geographic Information Systems to give first responders access to the video feeds, and more accurately pinpoint things including steam line shutoff valves.
With access to all of this information, Lorge said, cybersecurity was a main concern throughout the smart grid implantation, and will be an ongoing priority.
While it’s likely any smart grid put to use in Navy Region Southwest will be similar to that in NDW, Lorge said there certainly will be differences.
“There’s a different problem set out here,” he said. “Naval District Washington is primarily administrative. … It’s not a constant din of operations like it is over here at Coronado or even at China Lake or Fallon.”
He emphasized that small businesses will play a vital role in developing and implementing the system, as they did at NDW.
“The lead helping us do this was a small business,” Lorge said of the NDW smart grid. “Find the niche, find where you can plug in, find what you excel at and you will be able to find success in the military. We look first at small businesses to see if we can partner, and they bring us great ideas. They bring us great successes.”
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