Hanscom AFB leaders invest in energy resiliency

  • Published
  • By Jessica Casserly and Patty Welsh
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

Installation officials are demonstrating their commitment to bolster Hanscom Air Force Base’s energy resiliency and efficiency through innovative pilot programs, partnerships and prioritizing energy-related projects.

Hanscom AFB is the only Air Force installation to be part of the Department of the Air Force’s Energy-as-a-Service pilot program, which launched in February. Under EaaS, the Air Force hopes to demonstrate that a singular entity can be used to meet all the installation’s energy needs including routine operations and maintenance, energy efficiency and energy resiliency.

“The Hanscom energy team is tackling our toughest energy problems through innovation and partnerships,” said Col. Taona Enriquez, 66th Air Base Group and installation commander. “The Hanscom energy team’s innovative approach has improved energy resilience, and the team remains committed to ensuring Hanscom missions, residents, and partners have the energy they needed, when they need it.”

The EaaS program enables installations to partner with industry to buy energy capabilities and integrate multiple lines of effort into a singular contract. During the three-year EaaS pilot, the team, which includes the Air Force Office of Energy Assurance, the Consortium of Energy, Environment and Demilitarization and its members, and Eversource in partnership with Ameresco, will focus on 14 project objectives, including cybersecurity, a microgrid control system, demand response, distributed generation, and energy procurement strategies.

Another high-priority energy initiative for Hanscom AFB is a project to replace the installation’s substation serving Air Force missions. Following a significant power outage at Hanscom AFB in September 2022, 66th ABG leaders and Civil Engineering Division personnel are taking numerous actions to help increase the installation’s energy resiliency by replacing Hanscom’s aged electrical substation with a modern substation with improved redundancy that is ready for a microgrid control system.

“Hanscom’s main substation was originally constructed in the 1950s, with several upgrades occurring over the years,” said Tom Schluckebier, Hanscom AFB's base civil engineer. “The facility was programmed for replacement, but the events of last September accelerated the need to replace the facility with a modern state-of-the-art substation. In conjunction with the EaaS contract, Hanscom AFB will have a modern substation with a microgrid that will give Civil Engineering the ability to quickly and efficiently direct power in the event of a power outage.”

Schluckebier said Hanscom AFB is known for prioritizing energy-saving efforts, such as the fiscal year 2021 completion of a natural gas take station and a dependent cogeneration plant, which led to Hanscom AFB receiving a 2022 Federal Energy and Water Management Award.

“Not only do these complementary pieces increase the base’s energy resilience, but they also provide significant cost savings,” said Dave Wong, Hanscom AFB’s CE chief of engineering. “Our 4.6-megawatt cogeneration plant can produce as much steam as any one of the four existing boilers at the central plant and generates enough electricity to power 40 to 50 percent of the base during a power outage. Additionally, it provides resilient power to mission-critical facilities, bolstering the base’s resiliency.”

During the September 2022 outage the cogeneration plant played a critical role in providing power, Wong said.

The gas take station allows the base to avoid gas transportation tariffs previously paid to the local utility, leading to approximately $1 million a year in savings and provides the source of high-pressure gas needed for the cogeneration plant, which saves the installation more than $3 million a year.

“Hanscom’s gas take station includes a lot of specialized equipment to supply the base with gas on a daily basis. In the event of an equipment failure, this redundant connection provides an alternate path to the base distribution system ensuring that customers such as military family housing, Hanscom schools, and the base dormitory do not lose gas service,” Wong said.

In 2023, Civil Engineering completed a gas line resiliency project that provided a redundant connection to the base gas distribution system.

Hanscom AFB was also recently selected as a pilot base for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Environment, Safety, and Infrastructure’s Non-Tactical Vehicle Fleet Electrification pilot program.

“Fleet electrification efforts will replace approximately 70% of our non-tactical vehicle fleet with electric vehicles,” Wong said. “This SAF/IEE effort will install the necessary electric vehicle charging infrastructure to support these government-owned electric vehicles.”

CE personnel are also leveraging the Department of Defense’s Environmental Security Technology Certification program to conduct a data-focused heating, ventilation, and air conditioning analytics project at no cost to the Air Force.

"Hanscom Civil Engineering has partnered with a local firm to demonstrate a cutting-edge data analytics technology that can improve HVAC performance and reduce HVAC operating costs. This system provides real time analysis of HVAC system operation and can detect anomalies and make recommendations to improve system performance,” Wong said.

Additionally, base officials are working closely with the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as energy and academia leaders, to seek advice and expertise on energy resiliency and identify potential partnership opportunities that could benefit the base and our community partners.

In March, 66th ABG leaders hosted Maria Robinson, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office; Elizabeth Mahony, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Commissioner; Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force and University of Massachusetts Lowell representatives; Eversource leadership; representatives from Massachusetts state Senator Michael Barrett’s office; and others for an energy infrastructure-focused discussion and to explore potential partnership opportunities.

“Hanscom Air Force Base, its tenants, including the National Guard and MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and the surrounding region, can all benefit by bringing together energy experts from the local community, academia, government, and electric utility companies,” said Adam Freudberg, senior advisor for Innovation and Collaboration at Hanscom AFB and an Air Force support contractor. “By matching our strong local partners’ willingness to collaborate, with the offerings and expertise the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Department of Energy both bring to the table, together we are building an energy-focused action plan to better serve all who rely on electricity in the Hanscom region.”