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Air Force Lawyers Looking to Claw Back $9.6M in Utility Bills

AFA team of attorneys dedicated to fighting utility rate hikes is expected to save the Air Force $9.6 million in energy and water bills over the course of 2013, pending final decisions by public service commissions in three states, the Air Force has said.

The smart use of energy and water saves the Air Force money, but a decreasing demand has not overcome an increasing price. While facility energy use has decreased 37 percent since 1999, costs have increased 100 percent.

That’s where the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Utility Law Field Support Center comes in. The team, which consists of four attorneys and two paralegals, represents the Air Force before state public service commissions in an average of seven rate hearings a year.

For example, in December 2013, the ULFSC intervened in an electric utility rate case in Florida. The parties reached a settlement that lowered the utility company’s initial requested base rate increase from $90.8 million to $55 million. The settlement, approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, avoided a $1.7 million increase in utility costs for the Air Force and Navy, including Tyndall and Eglin Air Force Bases, Hurlburt Field and Naval Air Station Pensacola.

In 2012, the attorneys saved the Air Force $4 million in annual utility bills in 2012, the military branch has said.

The ULFSC chief, Lt. Col. Gregg Fike, says approximately 15 percent of an installation’s operating budget is spent on utility services per year. The Air Force spent more than $1 billion on facility energy last year, the Air Force says.

Facing several legislative mandates to reduce energy consumption, Eglin Air Force Base near Valparaiso, Fla., has launched a strategic energy master plan, which includes McKenney’s bdoc Building Intelligence energy management system integrated with Splunk Enterprise software, it emerged in May.

When it is fully deployed, bdoc will use machine data from more than 20,000 sensors deployed in more than 100 buildings to analyze energy usage and costs.

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