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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Expeditionary Training Base"

The day the lights went out

By Courtesy Story | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | September 5, 2019

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Eight years ago in the early afternoon hours of Thursday, Sept. 8, nearly seven million people across southern California, parts of Arizona, and northern Mexico were left without electric power. It was the Great Blackout of 2011.

All Marine Corps installations in the southwest were impacted, some worse than others. After Action Reports (AAR) documenting all issues and lessons learned from each installation were completed and compiled into a single regional AAR.

In the immediate aftermath, the regional AAR was instrumental in identifying and implementing improvements at the installations.

However, the homeland is no longer a sanctuary and the frequent threat of earthquakes and wildfires in the southwest is driving renewed interest in installation preparedness and resilience.

From headquarters to the regional and local installation level, the Marine Corps Energy Team is addressing these threats head-on by prioritizing energy security, along with its three pillars of efficiency, reliability, and resilience.

Energy efficiency starts with keeping to the 38th Commandant’s Planning Guidance, which advises the smarter use of energy in garrison and at home will translate into similar energy habits while deployed; Marines fight the way they train. At home, this can be as simple as closing doors and windows to keep the heat or air conditioning inside, maintaining a moderate temperature, and turning off unnecessary electronics and lights. Additionally, the efficient use of energy while deployed decreases the electronic signature targeted by potential enemies, which translates into better battlefield survivability and ultimately mission success.

Energy reliability is an every-day focus of installation energy teams Corps-wide. They work to ensure uninterrupted power is provided to installations through dependable, secure connections to the local power supplier, while also working to diversify on-site power generation and storage capabilities.

Energy resilience means being able to adapt and recover quickly when things go wrong, like equipment failures, natural disasters, or attacks (physical or cyber) by an enemy of America. More than just a backup generator waiting to kick on, ensuring power in the event of an outage means that Marine Corps installation energy teams have the ability to automatically switch the power load from the external grid to a microgrid in milliseconds with absolutely no drop in power to the essential functions of security and national defense mission accomplishment. The lights don’t even flicker. Setting a prime example of energy resilience, the microgrid at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma has the ability to power the entire installation if necessary!

Other important aspects of energy resilience require fixing what went wrong and getting back to normal. This won’t always happen instantaneously. The key to a quick return to normal operations is being prepared, having a plan to assess the problems, and putting the optimal resources towards conducting the repairs.

Marines and their families can rest assured the Marine Corps Energy Team is tirelessly working to ensure we are maintaining a moderate temperature, and turning off unnecessary electronics and lights. Additionally, the efficient use of energy while deployed decreases the electronic signature targeted by potential enemies, which translates into better battlefield survivability and ultimately mission success.

Energy reliability is an every-day focus of installation energy teams Corps-wide. They work to ensure uninterrupted power is provided to installations through dependable, secure connections to the local power supplier, while also working to diversify on-site power generation and storage capabilities.

Energy resilience means being able to adapt and recover quickly when things go wrong, like equipment failures, natural disasters, or attacks (physical or cyber) by an enemy of America. More than just a backup generator waiting to kick on, ensuring power in the event of an outage means that Marine Corps installation energy teams have the ability to automatically switch the power load from the external grid to a microgrid in milliseconds with absolutely no drop in power to the essential functions of security and national defense mission accomplishment. The lights don’t even flicker. Setting a prime example of energy resilience, the microgrid at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma has the ability to power the entire installation if necessary!

Other important aspects of energy resilience require fixing what went wrong and getting back to normal. This won’t always happen instantaneously. The key to a quick return to normal operations is being prepared, having a plan to assess the problems, and putting the optimal resources towards conducting the repairs.

Marines and their families can rest assured the Marine Corps Energy Team is tirelessly working to ensure we are ready the next time the lights go out.


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