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.


 
 

 

The new fight: Writing cyber into the science of war

Every year, the Aspen Security Forum brings together the top minds in defense, intelligence and homeland security. This year, more than ever, the conversation is turning to cybersecurity – protecting computer networks and everything attached to them. Cyber is constantly changing the way conflicts and combat unfold. Here, former U.S. Navy Rear Adm. William Leigher offers insights...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo/Osakabe Yasuo)

Need help? Trust your ‘Shirt’

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Arizona — When young Airmen need help or are looking for guidance, a good place to start is with a senior NCO. Making it into the top 3 percent in the U.S. Air Force is a major accomplishment. Alt...
 
 

Local Briefs July 31, 2015

Sunset Horseback Ride August 8, 4 – 8 p.m. – Outdoor Rec Saddle up and enjoy a 2-hour sunset horseback ride through the Saguaro National Park.. Final deadline for sign-ups is July 31. Minimum age: 18. Cost of $25/person. Call 228-3736 for more information. White water rafting and camping Aug. 20 – 24 – Grand...
 

 
(Courtesy Photo)

A Q&A with Master Sgt. Jaime Lewis

The men and women of the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) welcomed a new First Sgt. in May. Master Sgt. Jaime M. Lewis, began his career in 2000 as an Aerial Porter, where he performed duties such as passenger services, car...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)

Relationship building by means of the F-16

  America’s stars and stripes and Arizona’s lone copper star always wave proudly at the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing. But it’s the adjacent flags of coalition-partners – from the pacific island-nat...
 
 

Military life: Separated, but not alone

  MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho — As the dawn broke out over the mountains, I woke up to the sun peeping through my window. Once I got up I went straight to the kitchen to make my family breakfast yet in the back of my mind, all I could think about is how am I...
 




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>