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Submarine base embarks on latest energy project

The Naval Submarine Base has embarked on another project that according to commanding officer Capt. Todd Moore "will ensure reliable, cost-effective, and uninterrupted electric power" to support the base's dual mission of deploying combat-ready submarines and crews and training professional submariners.

Officials on Friday marked the start of construction of a 10.75 megawatt combined heat and power system to be installed at the base’s power plant, replacing the current system that has reached the end of its service life. In addition to generating electrical power, the new system will generate steam heat for “mission-critical" waterfront operations and training buildings.

The work is being performed through a 21-year, $169.3 million energy savings performance contract between the Navy and NORESCO, one of the largest energy services companies in the U.S.

The project increases energy efficiency on base through improved building heating and ventilation systems, efficient building lighting improvements and steam system improvements, achieving an average of about $10 million in annual energy savings, Moore said.

Energy expenses are the single largest cost for Navy installations, making up about 28% of installations' operating budgets. The cost savings anticipated through the contract can be used to support operations and improve the tactical performance of forces, Moore said.

He said the project also readies the base for a new, cybersecure microgrid, which will allow the base to generate its own electricity and will provide automated data gathering and precise peak demand control, but also allow the base to seamlessly disconnect from the utility grid and efficiently redirect power to areas where it is most needed.

Bob Ross, executive director of the state’s Office of Military Affairs, pointed out at Friday’s event that the site of the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new combined heat and power system was the same spot where on Sept 24, 2009, officials gathered to announce the first state-funded investment in the base: $7.65 million to support the construction a new Diver Support Facility at the base as well as modernizing a boiler at the base's power plant.

The state did not contribute to this project but since 2009 has invested in other projects to enhance the value of the base to prevent it from being targeted for closure or downsizing.

"The base looks so much different today than it did 11 years ago," Ross said. "A lot has changed in the world since we started. We're now talking about sea level rise, microgrids and resilient power. No one was talking about those things 11 years ago. It's nice to be in a place that's ready to respond as they become priorities in national defense."

j.bergman@theday.com

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