Utility rate team completes 8-year study, finds millions in potential cost savings

  • Published
  • By Kevin Elliott
  • AFCEC Public Affairs
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center recently completed a groundbreaking eight-year review of utility rates for nearly 70 Air Force bases in the continental U.S. and found millions of dollars of potential savings for the service.

AFCEC Energy Directorate's Utility Rate Management Team (URMT) along with utility rate consultants Exeter Associates, discovered over $22 million in possible installation utility cost reductions. The URMT team is comprised of a lead engineer, regulatory economists and support staff who analyze and negotiate utility services on behalf of the Air Force

Starting in 2007, the URMT began systematically visiting Air Force installations, and examined electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater invoices and contracts for potential savings. The team soon realized the opportunities were many and varied.

"We found savings in multiple ways," said Nancy Coleal, the URMT chief. "Sometimes it was a billing error, sometimes a simple rate change. Every situation was unique; we really had to examine each base case by case."

According to Coleal what makes this effort truly distinct is that it was proactive.

"We didn't want to wait until installations had lost significant dollars and then try to recover them,” she said. “Our goal was to discover pitfalls early, educate our base utility managers and empower them to really optimize utility cost savings going forward."

To maximize those savings opportunities, the URMT had to be familiar with utility contracts and rate structures of each installation.

"The URMT members are truly experts in their field," said Dan Gerdes, the AFCEC Rates and Renewable division chief. "Utilities contracts and rate structures are designed differently for every state -- sometimes we even see significant differences within a state. Our team has to stay up on the latest changes and trends across the country in order to best help our installations. The URMT is the link between the utilities and our bases; the team does an amazing job."

Coleal's message to base utility managers is to understand their utility contracts well, know how they are derived on their invoices, and don't be afraid to reach out for help from their utility company account representatives or the URMT.

"The URMT is here to help -- we have your back,” Coleal said. “If there is a question about your bill, or if you would just like to learn more about your utility contract, we are here.”