Energy Management in DOD Facilities
The Department of Defense (DOD) is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, spending billions of dollars each year to power its permanent military installations around the world. As threats to energy resources increase, DOD’s energy planning is key to ensuring successful missions in the future.
To successfully execute its missions, DOD's facilities must have the energy resources necessary to operate. This is important today, but also in a future world where there is increasing competition for resources. DOD’s planning is focused on these three major areas:
Energy sustainability: DOD has a strategic goal to reduce energy demand and consider sustainability, including climate change adaptation, in its facility investment decisions. The department was on track to meet its fiscal year 2015 sustainability goals concerning use of renewable energy, reduction in facility water usage, and other categories. However, DOD was not on track to meet its goals related to sustainable buildings and reduction in facility energy consumption, among others. Incorporating sustainability into DOD planning and decision-making will enable the department to address current and emerging mission needs and consider future challenges.
Energy security: DOD reported in 2011 that its dependence on the commercial electricity grid for facilities’ energy leaves the department vulnerable to service disruptions and places the continuity of critical missions at risk. As such, DOD’s energy management strategy seeks to, among other actions, increase the supply of renewable and alternative energy sources and improve energy security by addressing the threat of commercial grid disruption with on-site generation capacity. However, as of September 2016, only 2 of 17 large renewable energy generation projects on DOD installations had the capability to provide electricity to the installation in the event of a grid disruption without additional steps. Moreover, DOD’s collection and reporting of utility disruption data is not comprehensive and contains inaccuracies, hindering DOD’s ability to plan effectively for mitigating against utility disruption. Additionally, the military services remain at risk for potentially underfunding energy infrastructure investments because there is no clarity regarding the role that energy security plays when evaluating a project for funding.
Renewable energy: DOD must adhere to several government-wide renewable energy goals to encourage the increased use of energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind power. However, DOD faces three key challenges in meeting these renewable energy goals.
- 1. Land use conflicts. The way that DOD installations use land may sometimes be incompatible with renewable energy projects. For example, aircraft training operations may not be able to share space with wind turbines.
- 2. Cost effectiveness. DOD guidance calls for investment in cost effective energy projects, but renewable energy is often more expensive than nonrenewable energy. In addition, without clear and complete documentation analyzing the costs and benefits of renewable energy projects, DOD may approve projects that are not cost effective.
- 3. Limitations on private partnerships. DOD plans to enter into partnerships with private industry, such as local electric utilities, to develop renewable energy projects. However, these may be limited by several factors, including the possibility that energy produced by private partnership projects may not count toward DOD’s renewable energy goals.
GAO-16-487: Published: Sep 8, 2016. Publicly Released: Sep 8, 2016.
GAO-16-162: Published: Jan 29, 2016. Publicly Released: Jan 29, 2016.
GAO-16-164: Published: Jan 27, 2016. Publicly Released: Jan 27, 2016.
GAO-15-749: Published: Jul 23, 2015. Publicly Released: Jul 23, 2015.
GAO-12-401: Published: Apr 4, 2012. Publicly Released: Apr 4, 2012.