By Kristine Kingery, M.SAME, Kim Fowler, and Caroline Harrover  

Energy resilience is a key focus of the current administration and leadership with the Department of Defense (DOD). Most energy resilience case studies share a story about energy generation, usually in the form of a microgrid. Others focus on unique financing to bring private sector innovation and increased investment to military installations.

Unfortunately, there are times when what initially looks like innovative energy resilience projects end up as isolated systems or stranded infrastructure. Projects can often be oversized or undersized, or not connected to critical military requirements. However, by offering a clear, integrated strategy, U.S. Army installations will be able to make greater strides toward resilience that really makes a difference.


DOD has defined energy resilience as the ability to prepare for and recover from energy disruptions that impact mission assurance on military installations (DOD Instruction 4170.11, Installation Energy Management). A broader definition that emphasizes the need for an integrated strategy is resilience being the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and rapidly recover from disruptions to energy and water systems that impact mission assurance.

Energy security is a related term that addresses having assured access to reliable supplies of energy, and the ability to protect and deliver sufficient energy to meet mission essential requirements (National Defense Authorization Act, 2012).
These definitions offer important guidelines for DOD to follow—but they do not address specifically how to achieve resilience, in which an integrated strategy with a clear end state, project champions, stakeholder engagement, and an implementation roadmap are needed.


A report commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trust, “Power Begins at Home: Assured Energy for U.S. Military Bases” (January 2017), focuses on the existing military strategy requiring standalone back-up generation at the building level to maintain “critical loads.” Where building-level back-up generation has been an important component of emergency planning, it is not the sole solution to an integrated resilience strategy.

The Pew study outlines five limitations with an emphasis on standalone back up generation: (1) there is no connection between building generators which can cause each generator to be oversized; (2) there are maintenance challenges because of the sheer number of generators; (3) there is the potential of a high generator failure rate; (4) there is a lack of flexibility as each generator is hardwired to the building; and (5) there is no ability to provide power to other on-site loads without generators.

These limitations can be addressed by a military base having an integrated strategy and implementation roadmap with a clear end state. Instead of jumping to the single solution of a largescale microgrid, we are better served by considering the overall organizational strategy and mission needs, or whether the base has co-located power feeds, reliable existing infrastructure, and personnel trained and resourced to operate a microgrid. While a microgrid is a tool towards energy security and resilience, it will suffer similar limitations as standalone generators if not considered in the broader context of an integrated resilience strategy.

Rendering of a 50-MW multi-fuel/biofuel generation plant at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. U.S. ARMY IMAGE


As the military looks to advance resilience objectives, it is often looking to the private sector to share the investment. Thirdparty financing authorities like energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) or power purchase agreements (PPAs) allow the government to partner with the private sector or allows the private sector to cover the upfront capital investments of infrastructure investments such as new generation sources. The government then pays the investment back over time through normal utility accounts. While there are many nuances that make ESPCs, PPAs and the other third-party financing approaches valuable, the projects must first be scoped and aligned with an integrated strategy.

In July 2016, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., unveiled a new combined heat and power plant developed through an ESPC. This plant supports 50 percent of the requirements of the Edgewood Campus and is a great example of how the ESPC authority can be used to support efficiency and cost reduction goals. If the Army had an integrated energy and water strategy or clear requirement in 2016, the financial analysis for the project might have suggested an appropriated investment be coupled with the ESPC to offer black-start capability, and the project sizing may have been different in order to address critical missions.

If the Army does not articulate clear energy resilience goals during the project, a partner’s goals could drive the process, therefore resulting in more or less power being provided than is needed.


In 2017, the Army established an energy and water security requirement supporting resilience objectives and developed a comprehensive measurement framework. The service continues to evolve integrated planning approaches in collaboration with local communities, and is supporting project development activities across third-party and appropriated programs to address the challenges of implementing resilience projects. The Army’s multiyear, strategic energy and water security planning activities are aimed at providing helpful guidance to the lifecycle of programs and individual projects, while ensuring resilience projects both have and achieve a purpose.

All Army energy and water projects can now be scoped to deliberately contribute to energy and water security requirements, with acknowledgement of different scales of impact.

A 50-MW multi-fuel/biofuel generation plant at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii is one example of a project that has addressed resilience objectives from the beginning. This partnership between the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI) and Hawaiian Electric Company includes a lease to Hawaiian Electric to support construction, operations and maintenance of a new generation plant above the tsunami strike zone, and provides enhanced resilience to the local utility grid.

For the Army, this project is scoped in that the event of a power grid disruption. The plant will provide black-start capabilities for the electrical systems at Schofield Barracks, Field Station Kunia, and Wheeler Army Airfield. The Army’s support of the project acknowledges the mission needs of USAG-HI and the detailed operating agreement in place between the Army and Hawaiian Electric for contingency operations of the plant to support mission requirements as well as the project’s end state objectives.

Energy resilience champions at Army installations will have greater success funding and implementing projects when each project has a clear tie to the service’s overall integrated resilience strategy.

Fort Huachuca, Ariz., is another example where every project is tied to the Army’s energy and water security strategy. Fort Huachuca began a focused effort toward resilience with an energy security assessment in 2015. Since then, the garrison staff have embraced the Army’s enterprise energy and water security reporting requirements to support linking individual project concepts with broader organizational strategy. From an 18-MW solar project developed with the local utility, Tucson Electric Power, to current ESPC efforts, Fort Huachuca is linking individual project justifications and desired end states to the installation mission objectives that support the directive from Army headquarters.


The Army’s project experience teaches us that to ensure projects have a purpose, we need three key factors: (1) the effort clearly support the organization’s strategy and mission; (2) there is a clear end state tied to this strategy and mission; and (3) the project can be articulated as an element on a longer-term trajectory toward installation resilience. As part of its multi-year, strategic energy and water security effort, the Army is developing a five-step installation energy and water planning approach to ensure projects address all three key project success factors.

The planning process requires documentation of the installation requirements; assessment of risks and opportunities; development of projects and operational concepts; outlining sequencing and funding strategies; and measuring and managing execution. Beginning the installation planning process with outlining requirements ensures all projects support the organization’s strategy and mission.

By scoping projects to address identified risks or opportunities to installation requirements, justification for individual projects can support a clear end state, tied to this strategy and mission. By requiring the development of an implementation plan, projects can be articulated as an element on a longer-term trajectory toward installation resilience.
Energy resilience champions at Army installations will have greater success funding and implementing projects when each project has a clear connection to the service’s overall integrated resilience strategy. Every successful project will need to tie to installation-specific mission requirements, include a clear end state, and engage key stakeholders to articulate the project’s value as an element of the longer-term vision of installation resilience. Together, these integrated strategies will better direct investments, ensure every project has a purpose, and continue to build the Army’s road to resilience.

Kristine Kingery, M.SAME, is formerly Director of Energy Security and Sustainability, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy & Environment).
Kim Fowler is Chief Systems Engineer, and Caroline Harrover is Project Manager, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. They can be reached at; and

[Article originally printed in the May-June 2018 issue of The Military Engineer.]