Bases get ‘electric facelift’ as Marines deploy smart grids, electric vehicles

Good News Notes:

Marine installations from West Coast air stations to deep South depots are getting an electric facelift as the Corps ramps up its electric vehicle fleetand base “smart grids” for powering the force at home stations.

Following new executive orders to reducecarbon fuel use that would also make for resilient, blackout-proof power grids, the Corps is adding solar panel and renewable energy options with sophisticated software power management at installations such as its air stations, bases and depots in Miramar and Twentynine Palms, California; Yuma, Arizona; Parris Island, South Carolina and Albany, Georgia, officials said.

At the same time the service is finding the “sweet spot” for its nontactical electric vehicle fleet, one official over that program said Tuesday at the 2022 Modern Day Marine exposition in Washington.

And that work is slightly more involved than simply swapping out some charging stations and buying a few Teslas.

The service runs detailed energy resilience readiness exercises at various levels to blackout-proof the location’s power, Walter Ludwig, director of public works for Marine Corps Installations Command, told the audience.

They “can’t put microgrids in place” regardless of power supply ― solar, geothermal or simply diesel generators ― without testing those assets, Ludwig said.

And how are they doing that?

That’s the framework of energy resilience and readiness exercises that his team runs on all of these systems.

The basics include three levels of exercise, starting with a table top exercise that gets everyone involved with power generation and maintenance into a room with those who run the installation.

That group then troubleshoots what are the likely failures and what operational effect those failures would have on the units at that station.

Then they run an intermediate level exercise that tests a single facility during a controlled outage.

That helps them kick the tires on how power shutdowns will cause real effects.

They don’t want to simply flip a switch knocking out power to the base only to find out the hospital’s generators weren’t running.

Last, the team runs a “black start” exercise, which swaps off power sources from the infrastructure grid to backup sources or alternative means across an area. This lets power professionals see the system’s weak points and backups in a complete picture.

As technicians install solar panels, geothermal and other methods for making military bases power independent, the Corps also is looking to build out its nontactical electric vehicle fleet.

James Gough, transportation and logistics service director for Marine Corps Installations Command G-4, noted in his part of the Tuesday presentation that the Marine Corps has had some electric vehicles and charging stations for years on certain bases….”

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