News: Energy leaders converge to view Fort Carson SPIDERS
Story by Master Sgt. Charles Marsh
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Renewable energy, energy security and overall smart power served as overarching themes at the SPIDERS initiative held Tuesday between industry and military energy leaders at Fort Carson, Colo.
United States Northern Command Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Michael Dubie opened the Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security Joint Capability Technology Demonstration Industry Day by welcoming several distinguished visitors from various federal agencies associated with energy and security and other key leaders from across all the services.
“In using SPIDERS, aligned with cyber security and renewable energy, we are seeing a winning combination for energy security. That directly relates to our national security,” said Dubie of the USNORTHCOM-sponsored program.
The SPIDERS initiative is a Department of Defense-led partnership with the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security to demonstrate a cyber-secure microgrid on a DOD installation for enhanced mission assurance.
“When I was a commander, as a colonel, I had a few civilians working under me who asked why I was such a believer in renewable energy. I simply asked them if they had ever heard of Willie Sutton,” said Dubie, who added that most had not. “For those of you here who do not know, Willie Sutton is probably the most famous bank robber in the United States. When he was eventually caught he was asked why he robbed banks. His answer, ‘Because that’s where the money is.'"
“The DOD is the largest user of energy in the world. The world!” he emphasized after a short dramatic delay between statements. “So why would we care about renewable energy and smart power? Because that’s where the energy is.”
The SPIDERS program envisions creating cyber-secure microgrids which match energy system assets (generation and storage) to mission critical needs. The microgrids will be resilient to power disruption, protected against cyber attacks and include sustainable energy practices.
“In my 39 years between military and civil service, I have watched how energy awareness has changed,” said Rod Chisholm, Fort Carson’s deputy garrison commander. “It started back when we told people to turn off their lights when they weren’t using them. Then came the larger energy conservation campaign, and the program has blossomed from there. It has changed and continues to change and we [the military] continue to lead the way in many new energies. We focus on the ‘S’ part of SPIDERS – and that is being smart.”
Using a three-phased approach with increasing levels of system complexity, the program will culminate in the first DOD installation to completely integrate smart grid technologies, distributed and renewable generation, energy storage and cyber defenses with the ability to operate autonomously in an island mode for extended periods of time. The first two have already been completed.
• Phase I saw single microgrid success at Joint Base Pearl-Hickam, Hawaii, in January 2013. It showed a 39-fold increase in power reliability while achieving a 30.4 percent diesel fuel savings and 90 percent renewable energy penetration.
• Phase 2, a 72-hour operational demonstration completed in October 2013 at Fort Carson, Colo., was also deemed a success, and showed the microgrid could sustain mission-critical capabilities in the event of long-term outages. The system was demonstrated for the distinguished visitors and industry professionals Tuesday.
• Phase 3 will take place at Camp Smith, Hawaii, in 2015 and will be a collection of microgrids working for the entire base’s electrical distribution.
The deployment of these and future cyber-secure smart microgrid’s on military installations will not replace commercial power as a primary source, but will enable secure and sustainable backup power for critical missions with enhanced reliability and endurance at installation scale.
“Why Fort Carson? Why are we interested in this sustainability?” asked Director of Public Works Hal Alguire rhetorically to the crowd of more than 200 mostly electrical engineers. “Frankly, we’re trying to save money and resources on the base and, at the end of the day, improve how we meet the mission.”
The microgrids combine renewable energy sources such as solar and wind with a more traditional backup source – diesel generators. Utilizing the generators at their peak performance levels ultimately saves money in fuel and generator life with generator optimization and through the use of the harnessed renewable energy resources.
“We’ve had great success in our efforts,” said Alguire highlighting not just the SPIDERS program, but also Fort Carson’s 77 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings and keying in on the post being a net zero facility for energy, water and solid waste. “We’ve been empowered by our leadership to explore energy avenues and we’ve also been able to benefit from our partnerships across the services and in the community. That’s what’s led us to where we are today on Fort Carson.”