We all know that America declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776, but did you know that the Marine Corps is working to increase its energy independence from the electric grid?
As stated in the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Strategy, energy independence establishes a level of operational proficiency where energy is no longer a significant requirement that adversaries can exploit.
On base and in the battlefield, having access to a reliable, secure source of energy is critical to Marines and their missions. In order to help increase energy security and energy resiliency on base, the Marine Corps is increasing its energy independence by investing in a diverse set of technologies and renewable energy sources including microgrids, solar arrays, biofuel generators, and geothermal heat pumps. These efforts will make the Marine Corps less reliant on the electric grid and will help to fend off the following threats that put energy from the grid at risk:
- Natural disasters – Major power outages have increased ten times over since the early 1980s, and extreme weather is the leading cause. During Hurricane Sandy, flooding caused power outages for more than 8 million people across 21 states, stemming from damage to about 7,000 transformers and 15,200 power line poles.
- Cyber attacks – According to the Department of Homeland Security, cyber threats to critical infrastructures have increased by 171 percent between 2012 and 2015. The entire grid system is becoming increasingly dependent on computers, and a successful hacker has the potential to disrupt the flow of electricity throughout the grid and possibly cut off power.
- Aging infrastructure – The infrastructure and equipment that powers the grid is not up to speed with twenty-first century technology. About 70 percent of the grid’s transmission lines and power transformers are more than 25 years old, and the average power plant is more than 30 years old.
The Marine Corps has already seen the benefits of its energy independence initiatives. After a fire at an MCLB Albany electric substation shut down power from the external grid for two weeks, the base was able to operate off of a combination of the power generated from its biofuel generator and emergency diesel backup generators, allowing MCLB Albany to continue to support its mission.
Although you can’t build your own solar array to power your home or office, you can help the Marine Corps’ mission by decreasing your reliance on energy at home and at work. Also, for more information on renewable energy sources used by the Marine Corps, check out this link.
Decreasing your reliance on energy at home also has the added benefit of decreasing your energy bills. For information on managing your household finances, contact the Personal Financial Management Program (PFMP). The PFMP offers workshops and seminars on more than twenty money management topics. To learn more and find a workshop near you, click here.