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James announces Office of Energy Assurance

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James addresses basic trainees currently in the Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training (BEAST) course March 22, 2016, at the 319th Training Squadron on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. James visited the 37th Training Wing to learn about the Forward Operating Base (FOB) of the Future project, a joint venture between the Air Force Research Laboratory and the University of Dayton Research Institute which converted one zone of the BEAST complex to generate onsite power from renewable energy. The data from this prototype will help guide remaining technology maturation efforts and potentially accelerates the modernization of FOBs throughout the Defense Department.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Johnny Saldivar)

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James addresses basic trainees currently in the Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training (BEAST) course March 22, 2016, at the 319th Training Squadron on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. James visited the 37th Training Wing to learn about the Forward Operating Base (FOB) of the Future project, a joint venture between the Air Force Research Laboratory and the University of Dayton Research Institute which converted one zone of the BEAST complex to generate onsite power from renewable energy. The data from this prototype will help guide remaining technology maturation efforts and potentially accelerates the modernization of FOBs throughout the Defense Department. (U.S. Air Force photo/Johnny Saldivar)

Staff Sgt. Britney Simpson, a 319th Training Squadron military training instructor, briefs Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James on the anti-terrorism course taught at the Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training (BEAST) Course March 22, 2016, on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. James visited the 37th Training Wing to learn about the Forward Operating Base of the Future project, a joint venture with the Air Force Research Labratory and the University of Dayton Research Institute which converted one zone of the BEAST complex to generate onsite power from renewable energy. The BEAST site hosts the Air Force basic military training's field week where a warrior ethos is instilled in trainees as they complete various combat and confidence building skills such as combatives, a leadership reaction course and courses on the U.S. Code of Conduct. (U.S. Air Force photo/Johnny Saldivar)

Staff Sgt. Britney Simpson, a 319th Training Squadron military training instructor, briefs Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James on the anti-terrorism course taught at the Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training (BEAST) Course March 22, 2016, on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. James visited the 37th Training Wing to learn about the Forward Operating Base of the Future project, a joint venture with the Air Force Research Labratory and the University of Dayton Research Institute which converted one zone of the BEAST complex to generate onsite power from renewable energy. The BEAST site hosts the Air Force basic military training's field week where a warrior ethos is instilled in trainees as they complete various combat and confidence building skills such as combatives, a leadership reaction course and courses on the U.S. Code of Conduct. (U.S. Air Force photo/Johnny Saldivar)

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James speaks with two basic trainees before a demonstration at the Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training (BEAST) course March 22, 2016, at the 319th Training Squadron on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. James visited Lackland to view the Forward Operating Base of the Future, an Air Force initiative to increase energy efficiency at the BEAST site by converting one of the six zones into a completely solar powered area. James was given a tour of the BEAST complex, which hosts the Air Force basic military training's field week where a warrior ethos is instilled in trainees as they complete various combat and confidence building skills such as combatives, a leadership reaction course and courses on the U.S. Code of Conduct. (U.S. Air Force photo/Johnny Saldivar)

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James speaks with two basic trainees before a demonstration at the Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training (BEAST) course March 22, 2016, at the 319th Training Squadron on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. James visited Lackland to view the Forward Operating Base of the Future, an Air Force initiative to increase energy efficiency at the BEAST site by converting one of the six zones into a completely solar powered area. James was given a tour of the BEAST complex, which hosts the Air Force basic military training's field week where a warrior ethos is instilled in trainees as they complete various combat and confidence building skills such as combatives, a leadership reaction course and courses on the U.S. Code of Conduct. (U.S. Air Force photo/Johnny Saldivar)

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James speaks with 1st Lt. Jonathan Goins,the  energy and environment research engineer with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), about the process of converting an area of the Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training (BEAST) site to operate completely on solar power March 22, 2016, at the 319th Training Squadron on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. James visited the 37th Training Wing to learn about the Forward Operating Base (FOB) of the Future project, a joint venture between the AFRL and the University of Dayton Research Institute which converted one zone of the BEAST complex to generate onsite power from renewable energy. The data from this prototype will help guide remaining technology maturation efforts and potentially accelerates the modernization of FOBs throughout the Defense Department. (U.S. Air Force photo/Johnny Saldivar)

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James speaks with 1st Lt. Jonathan Goins,the energy and environment research engineer with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), about the process of converting an area of the Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training (BEAST) site to operate completely on solar power March 22, 2016, at the 319th Training Squadron on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. James visited the 37th Training Wing to learn about the Forward Operating Base (FOB) of the Future project, a joint venture between the AFRL and the University of Dayton Research Institute which converted one zone of the BEAST complex to generate onsite power from renewable energy. The data from this prototype will help guide remaining technology maturation efforts and potentially accelerates the modernization of FOBs throughout the Defense Department. (U.S. Air Force photo/Johnny Saldivar)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced the establishment of the Air Force Office of Energy Assurance and conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland March 22.

James spoke to more than 600 Air Force basic trainees at the ceremony for the Forward Operating Base of the Future.

The FOB of the Future is located at the Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training (BEAST) site, where trainees spend a week in an expeditionary environment during their more than eight weeks at basic military training.

Developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory, the $3.4 million project will demonstrate alternative energy capabilities to reduce a FOB’s reliance on diesel by generating on-site renewable energy and reducing overall consumption.

While the project is an energy reduction prototype that also advances a culture of energy awareness, the significant goal will be reducing the reliance on fuel convoys in contested FOB environments which have resulted in service member casualties.

One zone of the BEAST site was retrofitted with solar panels on tents, enhanced environmental controls, micro-grid technology, and smart power controllers, reducing the energy footprint of the zone by 85 percent.

“One of the biggest challenges our Airmen face on the battlefield is secure access to energy, the energy we need to accomplish our mission,” she said. “Natural disasters, terrorism, political instability … all of these can impact our access to energy and jeopardize mission effectiveness.”

However, assured access to energy isn’t just a requirement for our Airmen in forward operating environments, it’s critical to our operating needs at every installation, James said.

“Through innovative technologies and business models, we’ll create strategic energy agility on our installations, allowing us to sustain our mission even when traditional resources are disrupted,” she said.

According to the OEA memorandum of establishment, signed earlier this month by James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the office will develop, implement and oversee an integrated facility energy portfolio, including privately financed, large-scale clean energy projects that will provide uninterrupted access to the electricity necessary for mission success.

James said the OEA will take an enterprise-wide approach to identify and facilitate energy projects that provide resilient, cost-effective, cleaner power to Air Force installations.

Miranda Ballentine, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy, said the office is already beginning to operate and anticipates having 10 large-scale projects in service or procurement across the U.S. by the end of 2017.

“The establishment of OEA further cements the Air Force’s focus on energy resiliency,” Ballentine said. “The Air Force is taking a holistic approach to our installation energy resources and looking to resilient, cleaner and cost-effective energy projects as a way to enhance the Air Force’s mission assurance through energy assurance.”