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Monday, Dec 4, 2023

LEAD–Defending the Country in the Face of a Local Energy Crisis

The deregulation debacle is hitting all San Diego businesses hard, especially the manufacturing sector.

A morbid curiosity sets in while surveying the largest employers in town and asking the question: How is the cost of doing business affecting their bottom line?

The U.S. Navy is one business in town critically aware that they have to keep the power flowing to maintain the same level of combat readiness and the quality of life promised through the ranks, no matter what.

“People are surprised when I tell them that San Diego’s electricity crisis is not a huge crisis for the customers of the Navy Public Works Department,” said Cmdr. Dave Fleisch, program manager for utilities for Navy Region Southwest. “Our clients don’t feel the same pain because the rates they are paying were set two years ago. We operate through the Navy Working Capital Fund and that fund will take the initial loss.

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– DoD To Seek Additional Funding

“Bottom line, though, it means that the Department of Defense will seek $20 (million) to $30 million above current projections in additional funding from Congress to cover this year’s shortfall.”

The Navy Public Works Center (PWC) is a San Diego utilities provider to Navy clients just like San Diego Gas & Electric Co., the city of San Diego Water Utilities Department, and the San Diego Metropolitan Sewage District provides services to county residents and businesses.

Unlike most traditional public or investor-owned utility companies, the Navy PWC provides a multitude of utility services, including electricity, natural gas, potable water, sewer, steam, compressed air, and cogeneration. They also provide utilities services to ships that are virtual floating cities, redundant power to critical defense facilities and maintain utility pipelines buried beneath concrete runways and suspended under piers.

Their service territory includes all Navy complexes in San Diego and the Concord Naval Weapons Station. They provide power and water to more than 5,000 facilities and 83,000 active-duty and civilian personnel.

Just like any utility company, they have already evaluated the price change of their commodity, requested rate increase approval from Washington, D.C., and have set new rates for customers.

– Year’s Energy Budget Increased 50 Percent

“Our anticipated energy budget of $20 (million) to $30 million, has increased 50 percent for the year,” Fleisch said. “We are increasing rates in 2002 and 2003 to absorb the loss.”

The PWC purchases high-voltage , either 12 or 69 kilovolts , electricity from energy service providers and distributes it via their electrical distribution system to customer facilities.

Power is normally distributed on local bases at 12 kilovolts and transformed down to the voltage required by the customer near the customer’s facility.

They maintain dual redundant feeds from the supplier where necessary, and have extensive on-base switching facilities to provide necessary redundancy and allow system maintenance.

“Even though we have already received authorization to increase our service cost 100 percent, we are aggressively pursuing energy conservation measures,” Fleisch said.

Even though the PWC’s main customers are the Navy bases at Point Loma, Coronado and 32nd Street, 46 percent of the energy requirements are used to maintain the Navy’s fleet of ships.

“On a day-to-day basis, we talk to the ship’s personnel and remind them to keep doors closed and lights off when not in use,” Fleisch said.

– Navy Implements Energy-Saving Project

The Navy has been active in energy-efficient projects for years and is addressing the demand side management by implementing $15 million to $20 million in contracts, in a program financed through SDG & E.;

The area-wide program ensures replacement of old light fixtures, motors, electric controls and installation of reduced-flow water fixtures.

“Although these measures seem small, we anticipate a $2 million annual savings in water energy alone, and that’s a large impact on how efficiently we do business,” Fleisch said.

The PWC’s 300 personnel, charged with offering quality, responsive, cost-effective customer service, is implementing the area-wide Energy Management System to minimize energy costs and improve operation of equipment.

The system utilizes “smart” field panels, often called single-building controllers, that are networked together into one cohesive system to monitor and control equipment via either direct digital control or supervisory overlay of existing controls, ensuring the Navy obtains an expandable system.

Can the Navy reduce the cost of providing power by using other existing power sources on ships or in cogeneration facilities, or with alternative energy sources like a photovoltaic cell program?

“People ask me why we don’t use the power plants on the ships and let them sustain themselves,” Fleisch said. “It’s like running your car engine for the air conditioning. The additional fuel and air pollution impacts makes it very impractical and expensive. You also increase personnel costs by assigning additional watches.”

– Alternative Power At Two Facilities

The PWC operates two cogeneration facilities, at the San Diego Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park, and the Defense Megacenter computer facility at the Naval Amphibious Base.

The Naval Medical Center facility includes three 800-kilowatt gas turbine generators that directly generate electricity and use waste heat to make steam. The steam provides facility heating, produces domestic hot water, and produces chilled water for air conditioning.

It also provides medical/dental/laboratory air, medical/lab/wet vacuum, and chilled drinking water, and is equipped with emergency diesel generators to provide critical power should primary power be lost. The Defense Megacenter facility operates as a standby emergency generation facility that is unmanned and remotely operated.

According to Fleisch, “Both cogeneration plants are only capable of a small generating capacity and cannot supply power elsewhere like the photovoltaic cell program.”

Two years ago, the Federal Network for Sustainability formed a partnership with the PWC that resulted in a successful and model solar electric project called the photovoltaic cell program currently operating at NAS North Island.

The initial photovoltaic cell program started in response to a Federal Alternative Fueled Vehicle Leadership project where the Navy is mandated to purchase alternative fuel vehicles and generate power to charge the electric engines.

– Navy Acquires Innovative Vehicles

In 1999, 75 percent of the 250 vehicles acquired by Navy Region Southwest were alternative fuel vehicles.

The project was developed further with the PWC and the Navy Environmental Leadership Program to combine photovoltaics for power in addition to powering electric vehicles.

In October 1999, a roof integrated photovoltaic system was installed at NAS North Island and is being used to supply a portion of the energy used to recharge three electric vehicles and two electric utility carts. Additional power is then sent back to the power grid and supplies 3 percent to 5 percent of the energy needs of an administrative building.

“We save more than $7,000 per year in energy that we would normally have to pay for,” said Mike Magee, West Coast director of the Navy Environmental Leadership Program. “The amount of power we give back to the grid is enough to sustain five average homes.”

The generated power reduces the building usage by 108.4 kilowatt hours per day and 3,309 kilowatt hours per month based on the average rate of 18 cents per kilowatt.


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