Air Force

February 27, 2014

As utility costs double, AF attorneys fight back

Jennifer McCabe
Air Force Civil Engineer Center Public Affairs 

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Florida (AFNS) – The smart use of energy and water saves the Air Force money, but a decreasing demand has not overcome an increasing price. While facility energy use has decreased 37 percent since 1999, costs have increased 100 percent.

Fighting this trend keeps a team of utility litigation attorneys at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center busy. AFCEC’s Utility Law Field Support Center, a branch of the Air Force Legal Operations Agency, consists of four attorneys and two paralegals. The team represents the Air Force before state public service commissions in an average of seven rate hearings a year.

In 2012, the ULFSC helped Air Force installations avoid paying an additional $4 million on annual utility bills. Total cost avoidance for 2013 is expected to be $9.6 million, pending final decisions by public service commissions in three states.

For example, in December 2013, the ULFSC intervened in an electric utility rate case in Florida. The parties reached a settlement that lowered the utility company’s initial requested base rate increase from $90.8 million to $55 million. The settlement, approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, avoided a $1.7 million increase in utility costs for the Air Force and Navy, including Tyndall and Eglin Air Force Bases, Hurlburt Field and Naval Air Station Pensacola.

The ULFSC chief, Lt. Col. Gregg Fike, said approximately 15 percent of an installation’s operating budget is spent on utility services per year.

“Since the tax dollars that are used to pay the utility bills for military installations come from the operations and maintenance budget, every utility rate increase that is avoided is another dollar that commanders can use towards fulfilling their installation’s primary mission,” Fike said.

The Government Services Agency, or GSA, delegates authority to the Department of Defense to represent federal interests at rate hearings. Responsibility for the various DOD installations is then divided between the Air Force, Army and Navy, depending on which is the largest power user within a utility’s service territory. The Air Force is the lead for 31 utility companies across 19 states.

When a utility company files for an increase, the ULFSC analyzes the impact. If the increase is significant in dollar value or could possibly set a bad precedent, the Air Force will intervene before the state public utility commission, file discovery and testimony, and then litigate at the hearing with the other parties.

The Air Force is usually among a utility’s largest customers.

“If we do not intervene in these rate cases and represent the interests of the federal government, then representatives of the other customer categories (e.g. residential, small commercial) may believe the federal government can shoulder the burden of the utility rate increases,” said Maj. Chris Thompson, a ULFSC attorney.

The Air Force spent more than $1 billion on facility energy last year.

“As federal customers, we bring a slightly different set of issues and concerns to the proceeding, which may differ from other large customers,” said Karen White, a ULFSC attorney. “Therefore, it’s vitally important that we, and our counterparts in the other services, participate in these cases to represent our unique interests.”

Thompson feels that the center’s efforts are having an impact.

“At the end of the day, all of us in the ULFSC can look at our efforts and know that we are helping installations steward their precious operations and maintenance dollars wisely,” Thompson said. “It’s a great feeling, knowing we make a real difference to the Air Force.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

AF to implement TDY policy changes

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) — Recently, the Air Force started implementing two temporary duty policy changes that will impact travel reimbursements for Airmen. The first change, which took effect Oct. 1, made changes to the Joint Travel Regulations, Reimbursable and Incidental Expense Policy. The second will be a change in long-term TDY per...
 
 
(U.S. Air National Guard photo taken by Staff Sgt. Gregory Ferreira)

One big (really big) family portrait at the 162nd Wing

What family doesn’t have a portrait? In what was arguably the greatest collection of Arizona military talent assembled in recent memory, 162nd Wing members – nearly 1,300 of them – converged at the Tucson Internat...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo/Lorenz Crespo)

Pedro 66 survivor defines resiliency

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AFNS) — When the combat rescue helicopter Pedro 66 was brought down by enemy fire June 9, 2010, in Afghanistan, retired Master Sgt. Christopher Aguilera thought his life was over, literally. “I ...
 

 

AF releases criteria for new service medal

WASHINGTON (AFNS)  – Air Force officials released nomination criteria for the new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, following Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James’ May 27, authorization. The medal will be awarded to individuals for their direct support of nuclear deterrence operations. “This service medal provides a clearly visible way to recognize the dedication...
 
 
(Courtesy Photo)

Airman uses LEAP experience to enhance AFSOUTH mission

The U.S. Air Force is made up of a diversely talented group of people whose personal skill sets often enhance their careers; one Davis-Monthan Airman is using his language and culture skills to support a unique Air Forces South...
 
 
Combatives_pict5

Security Forces combatives training

Members from the 355th Security Forces Squadron participated in a combatives class at Davis-Monthan, Sept. 25. The class was intended to create resilient and confident Airmen while adding an additional tool to the SF personnel...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin