The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) established a policy in 1998 transferring responsibility for payment of utilities in privatized family housing to the residents in order to encourage reduced energy consumption. The Department of the Navy recently reviewed a pilot program designed to reduce energy usage in Public-Private Venture (PPV) housing onboard Navy and Marine Corps bases . The Resident Energy Conservation Program (RECP) was tested in PPV housing communities in Hawaii and at Beaufort/Parris Island in South Carolina (where I was once stationed and lived in PPV housing) . Until the pilot program began, residents of military housing on Navy and Marine Corps bases were not individually billed for their utility usage, and had little indication of their energy usage or incentive to conserve energy.
Beginning in September of 2010, residents of the pilot program PPV communities began receiving mock bills that detailed their energy use. Houses were grouped by similar size and type, and the energy use for each group was averaged. A “normal usage band” was created around the average usage. Users that exceeded the usage band would be required to pay for the excess usage, while users that were below the usage band would receive a credit for their conserved energy . The one year live usage portion of the program began in January of 2011.
The results of the pilot program showed an 8.8% reduction in electricity usage in the program communities, which equated to over 10.8 million kWh conserved and 4,250 tons of CO2 emissions avoided, with an approximate dollar value of $2.1M. Since nearly 50% of the funding to operate the pilot program PPV housing communities in Hawaii is currently spent on utilities , the cost savings can be applied to other quality of life upgrades to homes, neighborhoods, and services for the military residents.
Due to the success of the pilot program, the Department of the Navy plans to implement the RECP in all of its PPV housing communities on Navy and Marine Corps installations within the next year, with live billing to begin in January of 2013 . This is a positive step in promoting a culture of conservation by Navy and Marine Corps families and helps bring the Department of the Navy in line with OSD policies and goals for a more energy independent military establishment.