HUNTSVILLE, Ala--When U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville Utility Energy Services Contracting program staff met with Georgia Power Company representatives in a conference room at the Center in February, they essentially performed depot-level maintenance on a utility energy services contract supporting an Air Force agency with a critical mission.
The $52 million contract (with a capacity of more than $200 million), awarded in 2017, supports Warner Robins-Air Logistics Complex with energy savings, resilience and security improvements for the principal enterprise located at Warner Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.
One of only three Air Force programmed depot maintenance complexes (the others are in Oklahoma and Utah), WR-ALC is Georgia’s largest single industrial complex.
The sprawling 2,200 acre complex is a series of stadium-sized aircraft hangars, support facilities and office space employs more than 7,000 skilled workers who are responsible for overhauling, repairing and maintaining Air Force aircraft including the C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules, F-15 Strike Eagle and the remotely piloted Predator and Reaper aircraft.
The face-to-face meeting examined, clarified and prioritized current UESC phases of work for WR-ALC.
“In a way, we were doing depot-level maintenance to ensure all the moving parts of the contract were still functioning as intended,” said Chad Edwards, UESC project manager.
“Basically, we had to break down the contract piece-by-piece, kind of like what WR-ALC does to aircraft,” he said.
Edwards said February’s meeting with Georgia Power representatives was broken down into three parts: ensuring all WR-ALC’s energy needs and goals are accounted for within the current scope of the contract’s capacity; clarifications of Huntsville Center’s process requirements ensuring timely submission, thorough review and minimal delay of all contractor submissions; and a no-nonsense discussion regarding current contract capacity and future plans for the upcoming second round of UESC projects at Warner Robins
“The purpose of this session was to promote a cohesive and collaborative project environment – to achieve a higher level of understanding and coordination of the project as a whole,” Edwards said.
Since the inception of this project, Edwards said it has been vast and complex by nature with challenges including a multiple phased project approach, multiple buildings and installation of cutting-edge infrastructure technology all wrapped within an intricate coordination process that includes not only the ALC, but also local Air Force civil engineers, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center and multiple tenants also calling the Air Force base “home.”
“We wanted to adapt aspects of the phased approach to ensure energy conservation measures are delivered on time in the most effective way to support the Air force mission and the warfighter,” Edwards said.
Huntsville Center’s UESC program gives federal customers the flexibility to specifically tailor a project to a customer’s energy needs and financing strategies. For this contract to work effectively, all parties involved had to be on the same page, Edwards said.
The contract states that Georgia Power Company fronts capital costs and designs and installs the equipment in the project. Georgia Power Company – the largest of the four electric utilities owned and operated by Southern Company – is paid from the resulting savings.
UESC projects can encompass a broad range of energy conservation measures including facility electrical upgrades, installing renewable energy systems and microgrids — the localized group of electricity sources that can function autonomously as conditions dictate.
However, completing actions on facilities used while technicians break down and rebuild Air Force aircraft can cause a delay in getting mission-ready aircraft out of the hangar and back to the squadron.
“Production delay is a big risk to our customers,” explained Philip Conley, WR-ALC energy manager.
Infrastructure improvements to a building where avionics software is upgraded is one example, Conley said.
“Georgia Power’s folks sent to perform upgrade must have escorts the entire time they are in the building and sometimes coordination as simple as that can cause delays, so it’s very important we all have an understanding of specifics and processes so we can prevent losing mission momentum.
Conley admits facility infrastructure at the base is 20-30 years behind current industry standards, but he’s confident the upgrades will improve efficiency and cost effectiveness of ALC’s production capabilities in the long run.