New power grids to keep Fort Bragg running
By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: June 22, 2014
Fort Bragg is teaming with private industry to ensure the nation's largest military post keeps running, even during emergencies.
The Department of Defense is funding a $3.4 million project to improve energy security on post by creating microgrids.
The grids will allow Fort Bragg to power key parts of post, even if others don't have electricity because of a natural disaster or some other power disruption.
Fort Bragg is home to several key military commands, leading both special operations forces and the military's Global Response Force - soldiers on standby to respond to any number of contingencies, including humanitarian assistance.
That mission is not only global but runs 24-hours a day, seven days a week, said Christine Hull, chief of the operations and maintenance division of Fort Bragg's Directorate of Public Works.
Honeywell Building Solutions is building the microgrid, which will tie together Fort Bragg's emergency generators to ensure vital buildings have the power they need while reinforcing back-ups. Work began May1.
The project is funded through the Pentagon's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, and officials at Honeywell said the technology could spread across the military if successful.
"If Fort Bragg embraces new technology, others will, too," said Kevin Madden, the company's vice president of energy and environmental solutions. "Fort Bragg is the pioneer."
The microgrid project is one of several underway aimed at improving energy security on Fort Bragg through the Pentagon's program, officials said. All were begun this year.
The other programs include the installation of direct-current lighting and solar panels at a Fort Bragg gym used as an emergency shelter and optimizing the post's seven central heating plants to make them more efficient.
Coby Jones, Fort Bragg's energy manager, said soldiers are taught to be more efficient with their energy use. He said security and efficiency go hand in hand because the less energy that is needed in a crisis, the less the system is stressed.
Honeywill officials said the microgrid is similar to smaller projects with hospitals, research laboratories and other facilities that "absolutely, positively cannot afford to lose power."
Fort Bragg will be the first military installation with such a grid, said Madden.
"If any installation needs it, Fort Bragg is it," he said.