ERCIP partners meet to revamp project validation process

Huntsville Center
Published July 13, 2018
Dominic Ragucci, program manager for the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program, leads a group discussion as part of an ERCIP workshop at Idaho National Laboratory held June 12-14.

Dominic Ragucci, program manager for the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program, leads a group discussion as part of an ERCIP workshop at Idaho National Laboratory held June 12-14.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Huntsville Center’s Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program validation team members met with their ERCIP partners from throughout the Army for a workshop at Idaho National Laboratory June 12-14 to update the program’s guidance and requirements.

The purpose of ERCIP is to enable stakeholders to secure funding for military construction designed to increase energy efficiency, make use of renewable energy sources, reduce energy costs, and increase energy resilience and security.

Workshop participants represented the Army’s landholding commands: Installation Management Command, Army Materiel Command, the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Also present was a representative from the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, or OACSIM.

Before a stakeholder submits a project to the Office of the Secretary of Defense to compete for funding, it is the job of Huntsville Center’s ERCIP validation team to lend technical support and planning guidance by validating the project.

Dominic Ragucci, who serves as the ERCIP program manager and workshop lead, said he wanted to use the opportunity to revise and finalize the Army’s supplemental guidance for ERCIP and to revamp the process.

He said reconstructing the ERCIP process has become especially important in light of the Army’s new push for installations to become more energy-resilient and energy-secure.

Army Directive 2017-07 requires that every installation’s critical mission capabilities are protected from disruption or degradation. This includes each installation developing the capability of providing its own energy and water needs for at least 14 days.

“We were trying to make the ERCIP within the Army a whole lot better, and to meet those changes that have occurred,” Ragucci said. “We are also trying to make sure we’re better planners – from the installation level and upward – planning and programming the ERCIP projects, validating the ERCIP projects and executing ERCIP projects.”

Because Army Directive 2017-07 necessitates backup power systems that may not save an installation money in the same way as an always-connected, continuously running power system, Ragucci said another major change in the ERCIP process was revising lifecycle-cost analysis.

“Before, we had to meet a certain minimum savings-to-investment ratio, but because of the focus of energy resilience and security, it is difficult trying to achieve that type of savings,” Ragucci said.

Essentially, he added, energy resiliency and security means installations are backing up back-up systems, and trying to justify the savings in that context can be challenging.

Ragucci said Idaho National Laboratory was this year’s choice as the site of the workshop because INL is a key component of the ERCIP team and have on-site examples of emerging energy technologies. Three Department of Energy representatives at INL hosted and participated in the workshop.

Sarah Mandes, the Army program manager for ERCIP with OACSIM, provided guidance to energy managers in attendance and to gather information to improve the program with these changes in mind.

“They all support the ERCIP program as a lead for the Army, trying to improve the program and improve the process for how we plan, program and validate the projects so that we’re developing good projects for the Army and, on the execution side, that we’re reducing changes during execution,” said Mandes.

“I’m trying to impart to them the emphasis on energy resilience and the need to have better defined costs and scopes so that we have less volatility in the program, and better collaboration among the Corps of Engineers stakeholders on the execution side, on the programming side, and with command-level engagement,” Mandes added.

She said the next step is implementing the changes “over the course of weeks, months and years.”

“It went very well,” Mandes said of the workshop. “It was very constructive. We got a lot of good input and a lot of good collaboration.”

“Everyone is now more accountable for their particular project, and we’ve developed a good, solid process and good starting point to meet the new focus of ERCIP,” Ragucci said. “That, to me, is a success. The next steps are to finalize everything we did during the workshop.

“And then we’ll continue this dialogue and these workshops and still bringing everyone together,” Ragucci added. “There’s still going to be lots to learn and new ways of doing business.”