By Capt. John Kliem, P.E., CEM, M.SAME, USN (Ret.) 

The mission of the U.S. Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas. This mission cannot be accomplished without reliable, resilient and efficient energy that enables continuous support on installations at home and overseas.

That is why the Department of the Navy (DON) has invested in Smart Grid, an innovative technology solution that is capable of capturing near real-time data from building and utility management systems across the globe.


DON is developing and maintaining Smart Grid to leverage existing investments in affordable alternative energy generation technologies, microgrids, and cybersecurity applications. Smart Grid is a virtual, digitized environment that provides a transparent, comprehensive picture of the operational condition of energy infrastructure. Through this functionality, the Navy will have the ability to improve mission assurance and energy resilience, proactively manage energy distribution, minimize equipment downtime, reduce costs, and decrease energy consumption.

In addition to improving operations, Smart Grid will help DON meet strategic energy objectives. In 2017, DON established an Installation Energy Security Framework, a three-pronged approach to guide the department towards establishing energy security performance benchmarks, measuring energy system performance against energy benchmarks and mission requirements, and prioritizing investments in energy security improvements. Smart Grid is a key piece of helping DON meet these requirements.

In this increasingly digital age, the importance of cybersecurity as a DON strategic objective cannot be overstated. Smart Grid was designed to respond to virtual threats—in addition to physical and environmental threats—and aide an installation’s response to intrusions on its utility systems. Smart Grid resides in a secure platform enclave, where it can monitor and promptly respond to system attacks leading to outages and inefficiencies. Smart Grid’s secure foundational architecture combined with simple digital interface makes the Navy leaner, stronger, and better able to support its warfighters.


Smart Grid’s value is evident in a real-world scenario. Consider an electrical substation that goes down at a Navy installation, cutting power to ships docked at the base. A Smart Grid operator is immediately alerted of the outage and can deploy technicians to the proper location to fix the issue, allowing ships to return to their mission faster. Prior to Smart Grid, someone at an outage location would have to call in to report an incident before it could be investigated and analyzed, after which a repair decision could be made. Smart Grid’s instantaneous data revolutionizes how quickly operators can restore power after a disruption or outage.

The technology’s first deployment at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., reached initial operating capability in September 2018. To date, theNavy has connected eight buildings and 900 meters, with efforts underway to connect the installation electrical distribution system. Once these local project are complete, the Navy plans to deploy Smart Grid across the shore enterprise over the next several years.


Smart Grid allows the Navy to apply advanced analytics to monitor and identify opportunities for energy savings. The system captures data from meters and control systems in the field and connects to a secure platform enclave to bring it to a combination of commercial off-the-shelf and custom software, which then runs analysis and provides information to the user interface. Operators stationed in each of the nine planned Facility Energy Operations Centers are able to take action on observed anomalies to more quickly restore outages and optimize for both maintenance and energy efficiency.


Smart Grid consists of five software components that work interrelatedly to monitor system performance and transmit data in near real-time. Data Historian. Serves as the primary historian, data consolidation, and centralization platform for integration of supporting analytics and visualization products.

Mapping. Allows Smart Grid to import existing Naval Facilities Engineering Command mapping data and images and provide a consistent geospatial visualization of the installation energy environment and its shore assets (such as buildings, utilities, and piers). This is the user’s primary interface with Smart Grid’s Common Operating Picture.

Analytics. Provides analytics by way of fault rules, which monitor sensor data to detect performance degradation based on recorded aberrances from expected or accepted standards, such as temperatures over a set point or an unusual amount of energy consumption in a piece of equipment.

Predictive Maintenance. Enables advanced pattern recognition and machine-learning capabilities integrated with the data historian and provides the operator with a heads-up display when issues are identified.

Dashboard. Combines commercial-off-the-shelf products through a graphical user interface.

Energy usage data ultimately reaches the Navy’s Centralized and Integrated Reporting for the Comprehensive Utilities Information Tracking System, where it is used for meter management and billing installation tenants.

To make this process simpler, Smart Grid uses data collected from advanced metering infrastructure and utility and building control systems to create a “Digital Twin,” or computer-generated replica of the base utility infrastructure. The Digital Twin monitors sensor data on building and utility assets while applying advanced analytics to gain unique insights about performance and operation. An operator is alerted the instant any issues are detected and visually led to the geographically highlighted building or utility components on the screen, which can then be selected to display greater detail and analysis of the problem. From there, any action necessary outside an operator’s ability to correct remotely can be submitted as a service request.

Smart Grid’s specific capabilities include rapid identification and restoration from power outages; analytics of energy efficiency measures for ongoing commissioning; operational assessment and alarms; energy demand response; water, wastewater and stream monitoring; rapid repair of network connectivity issues; cyber event detection and mitigation; and predictive and condition-based maintenance of equipment.


Throughout 2019, members of the Smart Grid team will take their lessons learned and begin installing the system across the United States and globally. Immediate future efforts include installing software in the Navy’s Southwest Region in advance of initial operating capability later this summer and identifying buildings, control systems, and advanced metering infrastructure for initial integration in Hawaii and Europe. All other locations around the globe will be integrated over the next several years.

Once Smart Grid is fully operational, hundreds of buildings and tens of thousands of meters will be connected—transmitting gigabytes of data at any given time. Not only will this improve DON energy resilience with integrated near real-time monitoring and restorative control of critical building and utility infrastructure, but it also will reduce utility costs and optimize maintenance operations.

The deployment of Smart Grid puts the Navy at the forefront of energy modernization and paves the way for the implementation of Smart Bases, which utilize Internet of Things technologies to improve emergency response, security and force protection, traffic patterns and flow, construction, and telecommunications both on U.S. soil and abroad.

Smart Grid truly is DON’s solution for modernizing shore infrastructure in order to increase the lethality of its warfighters.

Capt. John Kliem, P.E., CEM, M.SAME, USN (Ret.), is Executive Director, Resilient Energy Program Office, Department of the Navy;

[This article first published in the March-April 2019 issue of The Military Engineer.]