Utility Partnership Helping Patrick Air Force Base to Meet Energy Goals

April 11, 2008

Photo of Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.
Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.

The 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base (AFB) is pursuing its energy goals through an ongoing partnership with Florida Power & Light (FPL). At the request of Patrick AFB, FPL developed a base-wide comprehensive energy program. This program charts a course for improving the base's energy efficiency in five phased projects, and demonstrates that Patrick AFB can exceed their Federal goals for reducing energy use by 2015.

The base, stretching along four miles of Florida's east coast south of Kennedy Space Center, is home to the 45th Space Wing and more than 35 major mission partners and tenants. Patrick AFB is responsible for launching unmanned rockets down the eastern range, and has completed more than 3,350 launches. With 1,900 personnel in about 200 buildings and structures, Patrick's annual energy bill is about $6 million and its peak demand is 19 megawatts.

FPL, the third-largest investor-owned utility in the United States, produces more electricity from renewable wind and solar sources than any other U.S. utility.

FPL and Patrick AFB formed this latest partnership for energy and demand savings in 2000, building on their past success. In 1995 the partners executed a basic ordering agreement—one of the first utility energy services contracts (UESCs) between a utility and federal customer—and through 2000 had invested nearly $10 million in energy improvements such as lighting, generators, and energy management control systems (EMCS).

The cornerstone of the partnership was the development and implementation of the base-wide comprehensive energy program. This program implemented a series of energy, demand, and water savings projects over the entire base. Instead of using a building-by-building or system-by-system approach, this program works holistically through two key elements:

  • strategically approaching a base-wide audit of the numerous and varied buildings and energy systems, and
  • executing UESCs for projects that show a positive year-10 present net value.

Under this partnership, the audit was completed in 2001 and identified potential savings of almost $1.5 million (71.8 billion Btu and 65,273 therms) and demonstrated the potential to meet Patrick AFB's energy goals. The audit divided the base into five program phases of buildings based on size, location, and technology. Energy-conservation measures (ECMs) considered were a base-wide energy management control system (EMCS), central chiller plants, decommissioning of the steam plant, lighting, ground-source heat pumps, thermal energy storage, renewables, water-saving technologies, building envelope improvements, FPL's load control program, and solar pool heating.

The five program phases will be completed in overlapping two-year periods from 2006 through 2012. The first six months of phase execution will focus on development, the next six on approval and execution of the contract, and the final twelve months on full design and construction.

The $3,780,000 agreement for the Phase-One project was executed in September 2006. Overseen by the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron, the upgrades include connecting chillers from groups of buildings into two chiller loops and reducing the number of chillers from ten to four; expansion and upgrading of the EMCS; and decommissioning of the central steam plant. The work will result in significant operations and maintenance savings, as well as avoided capital expenditures of $500,000 for repairing the steam plant building. The upgrades and modifications should save Patrick AFB about 2 million kWh and more than $259,000 per year.

The program's managers expect to benefit in Phases Two through Five from lessons learned in Phase One. To be successful, project development must be a team effort. A formal energy team should comprise representatives of contracting, civil engineering, finance, environmental, legal, and the heating, ventilation, and the air conditioning (HVAC) shop. A comprehensive team ensures that the correct people are available, informed, and ready to review and approve the choice of ECMs, designs, maintenance plans, and other aspects of the project. Such a team can also help provide the coordination necessary to ensure that personnel changes do not undo progress or slow momentum.

Phase Two of the project is now well underway, a notice to proceed having been issued in April 2007. A formal energy team has been identified and feasibility studies are underway for a central chiller plant, advanced metering, further expansion of the EMCS, lighting, and thermal energy storage.

Ongoing partnerships similar to the one between Patrick AFB and FPL are a typical outgrowth of utility energy services contracts between utilities and Federal sites.

For more information, please contact David McAndrew, FEMP, at david.mcandrew@ee.doe.gov or 202-586-7722; Patrick Beverly, Patrick Air Force Base, at patrick.beverly@patrick.af.mil or 321-494-7198; Ed Anderson, Florida Power & Light, at ed_a_anderson@fpl.com or 321-626-1010.