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Good neighbors: MCI-West installations do their part during California's flex alert

August 26, 2020

This report originally publishes at marines.mil.

Due to the recent heat wave over the weekend, the California Independent System Operator issued a state-wide flex alert for energy consumption to prevent rolling blackouts across the state.

A flex alert is a notification requesting consumers decrease electricity usage for a set period of time. In California’s case, the flex alert went out in expectation of a high demand for electricity usage due to the heat wave.

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and the other installations that comprise Marine Corps Installations West received that alert and quickly began communicating a plan to lower their electrical footprint.

“We were able to pass the flex alert requirement through our chain of command rather quickly,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Russ Rang, the assistant chief of staff for MCI-West’s Facilities department. “First thing Monday morning all units were notified to cut back usage.”

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The Facilities department has experts such as high voltage electricians and energy managers who work day in, day out with the various installations. A part of their efforts consist of decreasing the usage of energy on Camp Pendleton, whether that be installing energy efficient appliances or educating unit leaders on different ways to cut back on electricity.

Across all installations inside MCI-West, commands implemented various methods during the flex alert to minimize electrical usage internally as much as possible. These measures lessened the demand for electrical resources provided by the local utility.

“By conserving our demand, that allows the utility to keep the power on not just for us, but for our friends and family outside the base.” Curtis Hill, a communications specialist with Facilities

Some of the steps taken to conserve energy included: disconnecting from local utility-provided electricity and relying solely on base power for the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, cogeneration plants at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, as well as having various renewable energy capabilities at each of the installations.

All of MCI-West stressed to their tenant units and residents the importance of abiding by the flex alert guidelines via social media and other forms of notification. Marines and sailors were asked to raise the temperature on their thermostats, turn off unnecessary electronics and avoid using large appliances during peak hours.

Marine Corps Installations West has a primary mission to support training, sustainment, and deployment of the warfighter, and to provide their families with services that enrich their lives. While doing this, the installations also take steps to be a good neighbor to the surrounding communities in which many of their service members reside.

“Our installations are a part of the Southern California community,” said Curtis Hill, a communications specialist with Facilities. “By conserving our demand, that allows the utility to keep the power on not just for us, but for our friends and family outside the base.”

In a letter addressing MCI-West leadership from San Diego Gas & Electric, Marines and their families were applauded for their work to cut down on electricity usage.

“Your outstanding efforts to cut back on energy use on your bases as well as in your personal lives have helped our entire region and California avoid rotating outages over the past few days,” said Joe Perzina, the federal accounts manager for SDG&E, told service members in his letter. “On behalf of SDG&E and the people of San Diego County, I want to express my gratitude for the difference you made. Thank you! You helped keep the lights on for millions of Californians.”

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