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.


 
 

 
RecordBraking_pict

D-M breaks deployment records

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz., — Since the beginning of 2015, 1,252 personnel and 596 short tons of cargo have been deployed out of D-M.  “This was the biggest cargo movement ever on this base, and the bigg...
 
 
AZDMV_pict

DMV services at Davis-Monthan

A Department of Motor Vehicles office is located here that is available to all who have base access. The DMV is located in building 4300 in the southeast Fifth Street and Madera Street across from the 355th Civil Engineer Squad...
 
 
BBB_pict

Beware of unauthorized sports tickets websites

Tucson, AZ – Better Business Bureau warns against purchasing sports tickets from unauthorized outlets. With the football season approaching sports fans might do anything to get their hands on tickets at a discounted price...
 

 

Legal Corner: Avoiding ‘bird-dogging’

 JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — Scams aimed at taking advantage of U.S. military members are nothing new; however, one such scam, “bird-dogging,” has re-emerged as a threat to Service members’ financial security. Bird-dogging refers to the act of soliciting sales for a third party and is illegal both on and off base. One example occurs when a...
 
 
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nikayla Shodeen

Women complete Swamp Phase, earn Army Ranger Tab

FORT BENNING, Ga.,— The U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence announced yesterday that 96 soldiers, including two women, met the standards of the Swamp Phase and will graduate from the Ranger Course Aug. 21. Ranger School ...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash

AF Senior leaders give State of the Air Force address

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III held a State of the Air Force address at the Pentagon, Aug. 24. The first topic of discussion w...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>