249th Engineer Battalion Powers Through Multiple Recovery Efforts

The 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) is a versatile power-generation battalion assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) that provides commercial-level power to military units and federal relief organizations during full-spectrum operations. The organization is charged with the rapid provision of Army generators to support worldwide requirements. Recently, prime power production specialists have deployed to conduct electrical assessments of and provide temporary emergency power to critical facilities for multiple recovery efforts.

Soldiers from Alpha and Charlie Companies deployed to Guam after Super Typhoon Mawar struck the island on May 24, 2023. After USACE received a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mission assignment for temporary emergency power, the team began conducting critical facility load assessments of critical facilities such as hospitals, shelters, and water treatment plants. Prime power production specialists, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Temporary Power Planning and Response

Team personnel, provided technical expertise for temporary power generation in the impacted areas.

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Alpha Company, 249th Engineer Battalion, deployed to assist FEMA and emergency response for wildfires on the island of Maui, Hawai’i, performing critical load assessments to restore temporary power to the pumping and lift stations to help get water flowing on the island. USACE power teams were tied in directly with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters on O’ahu and were on the ground in Maui, leading the assessment and installation of temporary emergency power generators. The teams conduct on-site inspections of existing connection points to determine serviceability and to expedite the installation of temporary power generators.

Charlie Company also deployed to Florida in support of FEMA response following Hurricane Idalia. It provided temporary emergency power assessments for Task Force TEP (Temporary Emergency Power), coordinating relief efforts for critical facilities for the citizens of Florida, as well as inspecting the emergency generators arriving at the generator staging base prior to delivery and installation.

Bravo and Charlie Company Soldiers deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands ahead of Tropical Storm Franklin and Hurricane Lee. The Soldiers established initial generator staging bases and conducted training exercises with local stakeholders, Task Force TEP, and FEMA. The storms did not make landfall, but the Soldiers of Bravo Company helped the island nations become more resilient through increased readiness. Bravo and Alpha Company Soldiers also assisted the FEMA response to Maine and Massachusetts in the wake of Hurricane Lee.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Temporary Power Planning and Response Team personnel and Soldiers with the 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) completed the assessment and installation of two FEMA generators at water wells located in the hills above Lahaina to power the pump facilities and help restore critical infrastructure needs to west Maui. USACE PHOTO BY CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 2 MAKSYM ZYMIN

The 249th Engineer Battalion consists of a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, and three active duty line companies, Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie, as well as a reserve unit, Delta Company. The 249th Engineer Battalion also operates the Prime Power Production School in Fort Leonard Wood. The Prime Power School trains and qualifies the Army’s prime power production specialist (MOS 12P) following a one-year course that includes math, physics, electrical and mechanical engineering, thermodynamics, power plant operations, theory of operations for combustion engines, electrical schematic and electrical safety and load planning and assessments, along with three additional ASI for electrical, instrumentation, and mechanical expertise.

Each line company has a headquarters and four to six platoons comprised of a warrant officer and 17 noncommissioned officers. The platoons are capable of setting up, operating, and repairing complete medium-voltage power generation and distribution systems worldwide.

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Alpha Company, 249th Engineer Battalion, consisting of a company headquarters and four prime power platoons, is located at Schofield Barracks, Hawai’i.

Bravo Company, 249th Engineer Battalion is located at Fort Liberty, North Carolina.

Charlie Company and Headquarters and Headquarters Company are located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Delta Company, comprised of all Reserve Soldiers, has its headquarters and three platoons at Cranston, Rhode Island, and one platoon at Fort Belvoir, Virginia

Each platoon has the capability to produce approximately 3 megawatts of power at 4,160 volts (medium voltage). The newly fielded individual generator size is 840 kilowatts (kW). These medium-voltage generators require transformers to convert the voltage to a user level (120/208/277/480 volts).

The battalion offers a variety of services, including: electrical power requirement assessment and power production; transformer inspection and test analysis; maintenance and repair of power plants, substations, and government-owned or -managed transmission and distribution systems; circuit breaker and relay maintenance; infrared surveys; medium-voltage electrical contractor oversight; and training for personnel to operate and maintain prime power distribution and generation equipment.

This article is featured in the 2023-2024 edition of America’s Engineers: The People, Programs, and Projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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