Mobile District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is embarking on the first-ever Energy Savings Performance Contract executed for a Corps Civil Works project that could set the stage for other USACE districts.
Mobile District is teaming up with the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, to improve the infrastructure along the Tennessee-Tombigbee (Tenn-Tom) Waterway, which the district manages.
The project kicked off July 9. During its 21-year performance period, the Tenn-Tom ESPC is expected to save the Corps of Engineers a projected $5.05 million in energy costs.
Huntsville Center awarded the $2.8 million ESPC to Siemens Government Technologies Inc., of Arlington, Virginia, May 30. The length of the contract is 21 years, 11 months, which includes the construction phase that is scheduled to start in October and be complete in the spring of 2015. The contractor will install, replace or retrofit elements of the Tenn-Tom’s infrastructure — primarily lighting at its 10 locks and dams.
"A lot of time was spent getting it right,” said William (Wynn) Fuller, chief of Operations for Mobile District. “Along the Tenn-Tom, our facilities are scattered over 234 miles, so that's a lot of different facilities. It was important to see this as an opportunity to take advantage of ESPC. The measurement and verification are going to be critical.
"It was an education process for both of us,” Fuller said. “Mobile District had to understand the proposed methods, outcomes, etc., that Huntsville Center intended to use – particularly third-party financing. Huntsville Center had to learn about the unique aspects of Civil Works projects, particularly navigation. Civil Works is a different animal altogether.
“I am optimistic that working together we can accomplish our goals in terms of reducing energy consumption,” he said.
The Tenn-Tom is a man-made waterway that links the Tennessee River to the Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers. When the Corps of Engineers completed its construction in 1984, the project offered the nation’s midsection an alternate route to the Port of Mobile and the Gulf of Mexico. The Tenn-Tom encompasses 110,000 acres of land that is used by more than 3 million people for recreation annually. The project stimulates economic development, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, supports navigation and enhances wildlife habitat.
ESPCs leverage industry expertise and private sector financing to make infrastructure upgrades to federal facilities to reduce energy and water consumption, and reduce the waste stream. An energy savings contractor guarantees the improvements will generate sufficient savings to pay for the project during the term of the contract, which cannot exceed 25 years. The ESPC incorporates a process for measurement and verification of the annual savings so that the payment to the Energy Services Contractor never exceeds the actual savings.
“This project award demonstrates that we can use ESPCs to leverage third-party funding at our civil works sites to help us reach our national sustainability goals and energy independence,” said John Coho, the Corps of Engineers’ Energy Coordinator and Senior Adviser for Environmental Compliance. “It is going to be a model for others down the road, and I fully expect we will be able to use it at sites along other rivers as well.”
Huntsville Center is the Corps of Engineers’ technical center of expertise for ESPC, and as such, brings years of experience managing ESPCs for military projects, which includes solar and wind turbine projects at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. The three wind turbines will produce an estimated 5 percent of the energy consumed by the installation. A total of 21,824 solar photovoltaic panels will produce about 5.5 megawatts of power, which is at least 60 percent of the installation’s current power demand at its peak.