Lights out: JB MDL conducts first ERRE at a Joint Base

  • Published
  • By By Airman 1st Class Joseph Morales & Staff Sgt. Jake Carter
  • 87 Air Base Wing

Energy resilience is emphasized by the National Defense Strategy and continues to be prioritized by the Department of Defense. To address this priority, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst recently completed an Energy Readiness Resiliency Exercise, also known as a “pull-the-plug” exercise, on Nov. 19, 2020.

“ERREs are an important assessment tool, from the installation level all the way up the chain, for testing what we think will happen versus what actually happens,” said Mark Correll, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Environment, Safety and Infrastructure. “With the recent ERRE executed at JB MDL, the first Joint Base to do so, we continue to expand and deepen our work in assessing the resilience of energy, and other essential infrastructure, against attacks, natural disasters and other threats.”

The exercise provides awareness of actual system capabilities during a real world power outage and tests an installation’s ability to operate in a degraded environment. Correll commended the installation’s eager participation, which included the testing of Army and Navy tenants.

Areas all across the installation were without power, to include the 305th Air Mobility Wing. Despite the outage the 305 AMW was still able to generate missions and project global mobility.

“The ERRE is able to measure the base’s ability to respond to an event where we have no commercial power,” said Alexander Vincent, 787th Civil Engineer Squadron energy and utility billing section supervisor. “We make sure our generators for our critical facilities come online and work, for an extended period of time, as well as ensure our workforce can come and respond to an outage then maintain those critical functions.”

The exercise also allows CES to look for vulnerabilities, requirements and gather data for future improvements.

“The report we get from this exercise becomes a baseline. That report will identify facilities upgrades, renovations and locate vulnerabilities,” said Vincent. “The goal of the exercise is to be resilient. We can still maintain the mission and get the warfighters out to where they need to go.” 

The ERRE also provided valuable training to many CES Airmen.

 “A big part of it is reinforcing what their job is and they get to learn,” said Vincent. “Those electricians get to go out and they get to operate the equipment. Power Pro gets to work on generators and learn how to use the connection points with the generators, while fuels [Airmen] go out and sustain fueling operations.”

Additionally, the ERRE prepared individuals outside of CES to adapt and overcome in the event of an unplanned power outage.

“We want everyone to learn energy resiliency, because it can happen any time,” said Vincent. “A lot of people can't imagine operating without a computer and if you don't have power, you don't have a computer, so what do you do? It’s being resilient and overcoming challenges at a moment’s notice.”