News | Sept. 6, 2016

DLA Energy assists Arlington National Cemetery with electricity distribution system

By Tanekwa Bournes, DLA Energy Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Energy members met with Dominion Virginia Power leaders to follow up on the progress of projects at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, Aug. 31.

A recent trip to the national cemetery, located next to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, allowed both parties the chance to see how Dominion Virginia Power is working to rebuild and modernize the entire electrical distribution system while maintaining the integrity of the grounds. Work consists of installation of thousands of feet of underground duct bank, transformers, switches and metering cabinets.

“Working on the grounds is no easy task for Dominion Virginia Power, but workers’ complete tasks in a respectful manner by stopping work when funeral sessions are held nearby or processions pass, covering worksites with sod and removing equipment in advance of events,” Kent Straub-Jones, a contracting officer with DLA Energy Utility Services.

The intended outcome is to make the electric grid reliable and redundant so that regardless of the weather, Arlington National Cemetery will have the power to keep the lights on, he added.

The power company proposed this work in 2008, to improve service through the construction of an electrical substation at the military installation featuring two new 230-kV underground transmission lines.

The Army National Cemeteries Program requested assistance from U.S. Army Installation Management Command to privatize its electrical distribution system. They received approval from the assistant chief of staff for Installation Management Utilities Privatization Program Management office and were added to the privatization evaluation schedule in December 2011. Then DLA Energy was requested by the office to enter into sole source negotiations with Dominion Virginia Power for Arlington National Cemetery in 2014.

Since September 2003, the Army has mandated that all pre-award actions associated with future utilities privatization efforts at its installations use DLA Energy. As the contracting Center of Excellence for the Utilities Privatization Program, the Army and Air Force utilize DLA Energy’s contracting expertise to solicit, evaluate, award, and administer the utility services contracts on their installations.

The original contract for this work was awarded Sept. 19, 2015, for a 41-year, eight-month period of performance which will end Aug. 15, 2057.

“Our team worked closely with Arlington National Cemetery, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and Dominion Virginia Power to ensure this project was awarded on time,” said Martha Gray, director of DLA Energy Utility Services. “Arlington National Cemetery is already seeing the benefits of a privatized system, as modernization of its aging infrastructure is happening quickly.  Dominion Virginia Power has already proving to be a great partner to the Army in this effort.”

The Utilities Privatization Program comes under the Army's assistant chief of staff for Installation Management. Utilities Privatization Program Manager Curt Wexel confirmed Gray's statements about the value of privatization. 

He said the privatization of the electrical system is projected to yield a cost avoidance of $3.5 million or 27 percent over its life cycle, as compared to the cost of continued government ownership. 

"Newer equipment will reduce Arlington National Cemetery's electrical usage by about $9,000 per year," Wexel said. "In addition to these cost savings, the cemetery will benefit by more secure and reliable service from a trusted industry partner."

DLA Energy meets monthly with representatives from Dominion Virginia Power, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and Arlington National Cemetery to take a site inspection to go over the status of the ongoing projects and to maintain open lines of communication.