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Marine NCOs eyed for new 'energy manager' duty

Accountability on base seen as central to cost-savings push

Nov. 27, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
The Corps is planning to create 'unit energy managers,' likely sergeants or staff NCOs, to help curb excessive use in the barracks and elsewhere on base.
The Corps is planning to create 'unit energy managers,' likely sergeants or staff NCOs, to help curb excessive use in the barracks and elsewhere on base. (Marine Corps)
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Accountability on base seen as central to cost-savings push

Accountability on base seen as central to cost-savings push

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The Marine Corps has an aggressive cost-savings plan that entails driving down energy costs in the barracks and other facilities on base, and it calls for creation of a “unit energy manager” who would monitor use and encourage personnel to conserve.

These jobs, whose debut could coincide with the next “Energy Awareness Month” in October 2014, would fall to a sergeant or staff noncommissioned officer in each battalion. He or she would be tasked with promoting and increasing energy awareness to fellow Marines and unit members, identifying energy saving opportunities, and serving as a point of contact for energy-related questions or problems, said Rex Runyan, a Marine spokesman at the Pentagon.

The plan was touted by Maj. Gen. Juan Ayala, head of Marine Corps Installations Command, during a September interview with Marine Corps Times. Energy costs represent a significant portion of installation expenses, particularly for bases in extreme climates, Ayala said,

“The majority of our Marines are single. Most of them live in the barracks,” Ayala said. “How do you do it, [instill] energy ethos? That’s hard. But we’re trying through campaigns. ... We’re also going to assign an energy manager, a single point of contact in each unit to be able to do that, just get the word out.”

In much of the public-private partnership family housing aboard Marine Corps bases, a carrot-and-stick energy savings program is already in place. Households receive a financial penalty if their monthly usage rises above a certain rate and get a small financial incentive if their usage comes in under a predetermined level.

In the interview, Ayala said he was unsure if future energy savings plans would involve penalizing Marines through their units but said they were considering more creative options to make Marines aware of their consumption.

The typical attitude, he said, is “ ‘We’re doing so much, we’re warfighters, why should we worry about that?’ Well, because that’s important, and it’s getting to that point where it is important.”

The Navy has implemented a series of aggressive energy directives, including a requirement that half of Navy and Marine Corps Installations be “net-zero” for energy consumption, meaning that the renewable energy facilities produce should roughly equal the amount of energy consumed. The Marine Corps is also working on a requirement to cut installation energy use by 30 percent by 2015, from 2003 baseline levels.

Ayala said Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Pendleton, Calif., “were looking good” to meet this goal.

Runyon said the unit energy manager positions, as drafted, would report to unit or tenant commanders. Installations Command would facilitate training.

Each installation already has a civilian installation energy manager responsible for advising the base commander, monitoring energy consumption and progress against long-term reduction goals, and planning base activities to promote conservation. But ongoing “end user awareness” efforts may help drive the success leaders are looking for as the 2015 deadline draws near.

“You need to hold people accountable,” Lt. Gen. William Faulkner, deputy commandant for installations and logistics, said during a conference earlier this year. “Right now, we’re working to push it down to commanders and hold them accountable for energy goals, whether it’s barracks or facilities, whatever the case may be.”

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