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Air Force awards $143 million energy savings contract at DoD’s largest joint base

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air Force Civil Engineer Center Energy Directorate’s Program Development division worked together with Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, and the Defense Logistics Agency-Energy to award an energy savings performance contract valued at nearly $143 million to increase energy resiliency at the Department of Defense’s largest joint base.

Ameresco, Inc. has been awarded the contract to support all areas of JBSA and provide more than $285 million in total cost savings over the 22-year financed term of the contract.

“This project represents a major achievement for the Air Force and the Warfighter,” said Dr. Joe Davis, project manager for the AFCEC Energy Directorate. “Its successful award is a direct result of the significant teamwork by JBSA, AFCEC and DLA-Energy.”

The plan for the project calls for upgrades to approximately 900 buildings across JBSA, totaling more than 14.5 million square feet. JBSA will receive energy upgrades to increase their energy resilience, efficiency, and reliability. Twenty megawatts of renewable energy systems, including solar and combined heat/power plants, will be installed inside the fence line and energy security will be improved through microgrid control systems.

JBSA, AFCEC, and DLA-Energy not only worked together to develop the scope and goals of this project, but were able to leverage $2.7 million in direct investment through the military’s facilities, sustainment, restoration, and modernization program to reduce the required amount of capital investment by the government.

Solar arrays will deliver power to JBSA-Lackland on a daily basis and reduce demand from the grid, providing additional cost savings to JBSA. If a grid outage occurs, the base will continue to receive power from the arrays and control systems will actively shed non-critical loads to match available electricity. The energy storage system will provide reliable, fast-responding power minimizing mission impact until backup generators come online and the grid restores power.

Additional upgrades will include: heating, ventilation, air conditioning energy management control systems, additional HVAC thermal energy storage, new lighting and controls, improved building envelopes, and the integration of on-site generation, backup generation, and battery storage.

"The Ameresco ESPC was the result of two long years of detailed planning and assessment of facilities to identify opportunities,” said Tom Mieczkowski, team chief for the 802nd Civil Engineering Squadron energy manager section, portfolio optimization element. “The objective was to increase energy resilience, modernize JBSA’s facility infrastructure, reduce lifecycle operating costs, and mitigate risk associated with future commodity price volatility. The savings over the term of the contract will enable JBSA to introduce additional energy resiliency to sustain the important missions here while also conserving energy."

Facilities in the scope of this project will see a 24 percent reduction in energy usage, a reduction in their energy spend by approximately $8.7 million annually.

"Enabling the Warfighter to conduct their missions is a key role of Air Force civil engineers," said Brenda Roesch, director of the 502nd Civil Engineer Group. “This ESPC will strengthen energy resilience at Joint Base San Antonio and in the San Antonio region."

ESPC projects like these are made possible through the ability of the government to enter into partnerships with energy service companies. These contracts provide energy resilience, energy savings and facility improvements with no up-front capital costs to the government. ESPCs make major improvements to the bases’ energy infrastructure and can include items such as installing renewable or other high-efficiency sources of power. In addition, they decentralize utility infrastructure increasing efficiency, retrofit existing exterior lighting with new high-efficiency fixtures, and address climate issues in buildings identified by the base.

Energy service companies are given an opportunity to respond to a notice of opportunity released by an installation and, after the installation selects a company to proceed, the company conducts a preliminary assessment, followed by an investment-grade audit. During this process, AFCEC, a primary subordinate unit within the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, provides technical expertise to the installation while the company evaluates and recommends energy conservation measures that make sense for the location. After completion of this process and approval, an award can be made.

“We have an entire team of engineers dedicated to supporting these projects,” said Mike Ringenberg, ESPC program manager for the AFCEC Energy Directorate. “Whether installations are looking for guidance on the best path to pursue, technical expertise, or an experienced facilitator to help the installation through the process, we are eager to help.”

Installations interested in pursuing energy projects are encouraged to reach out to AFCEC through the Reachback Center at (888) 232-3721 or at AFCEC.RBC@us.af.mil.