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News | Sept. 9, 2019

Sharing Utilities Privatization lessons learned

By Connie Braesch DLA Energy Public Affairs

When military installations leverage utilities privatization, they shift from the role of owner-operator to utility services customers and obtain reliable, technologically-current utility systems at a relatively lower cost than they would under continued government ownership. 

During the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2019 Energy Exchange in Denver, Colorado, Aug. 20-22, Utilities Privatization, or UP, was a major topic of discussion.   

“Utility services contracts under the UP program build a strong backbone of reliability for the utilities on an installation and, in turn, pave the road to resilience,” said DLA Energy Utilities Services Deputy Director Laurie Carlson. “UP leverages industry expertise and private investment to obtain utility systems that are more secure, resilient, safe, efficient and capable.”

During the “Utilities Privatization:  Are You Committed?” panel, Carlson and two utilities privatization system owners discussed UP challenges and benefits.

Managing UP programs, which are often up to 50-year utility services contracts, takes commitment from both the government and industry. The panel discussed feedback systems to support continuous improvement of processes, practices, and results/outcomes in support of the UP program, Carlson said.

“While the UP program has challenges – such as how to structure cybersecurity implementation and compliance requirements and complete complex pricing adjustments – the government is committed,” she said. “The stakeholders, including DLA Energy, use various methods to find resolutions to these and more challenges.”  

Carlson talked about ongoing, regular industry engagement, government-wide collaboration on policies and practices through the Office of Secretary of Defense UP Working Group, post-conveyance reviews, Government Accountability Office reviews, Department of Defense UP Post-Award Workshops, and broad system performance metrics.

Carlson and the DLA Energy Utility Services team assist the military services by providing contract and technical support. 

“DLA Energy’s Utility Services has an experienced team of contract specialists working exclusively on UP solicitations and contracts that have assured consistency across the Military Services’ UP Program by the development of templates, SOPs, manuals, processes and procedures,” Carlson said.  

The 2019 Energy Exchange’s theme was “Be Efficient and Resilient,” which Carlson said falls right in line with UP program goals of reliability and resilience.

“It was a great, open, and honest discussion that continues our collaborative commitment to building a strong, viable, and sustainable UP program,” she concluded.