More than 40 people gathered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, Dec. 5-6 with another 40 attending virtually for a programmatic review of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program (ERCIP).
A subsection of the Department of Defense-wide Military Construction (MILCON) program, ERCIP specifically funds projects saving energy and water, reducing energy costs, and improving energy resilience and security for federal and military stakeholders.
The ERCIP program review is key for the project execution after Headquarters USACE assigned Louisville District the mission in 2022 of providing program management and construction contract management and administration of ERCIP projects, said Jeremy Cobb, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division ERCIP Program Manager.
The Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, Louisville District and U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville were selected to deliver the ERCIP program for their strong collaborative approach.
Geographic districts continue having responsibility for participating in planning and design while performing design reviews with Louisville District.
Huntsville Center’s ERCIP Validation Program is the Army’s ERCIP requirement development experts providing planning and technical support to the Army by validating all ERCIP projects before they are submitted to Office of the Secretary of Defense to compete for funding.
As facilitator of the event, Cobb said having key stakeholders in the meeting allows for good discussion on their concerns and issues with the program.
“The meeting focused on the internal process of executing the program since we have developed this partnership with Louisville District and Huntsville Center,” Cobb said. “It was good to get contracting, legal, planning, project management, engineering and construction all in the same room to find ways to improve execution and find efficiencies in our processes.”
Cobb said ERCIP has a lot of technical challenges and bringing in subject matter experts to provide information about the challenges while developing and planning for microgrids, commissioning, and black start exercises provides the teams working on the program a better picture of the issues and challenges.
As host for the meeting, Huntsville Center Programs and Business Director Arthur Martin III welcomed the attendees Dec. 5.
Martin said the challenges from Huntsville Center’s perspective have centered around getting a robust list of projects submitted, vetted, and approved and then securing the funding streams to execute those projects.
“When considering the challenges that we’ve had with increased supply chain material costs, a lot of contractors have submitted proposals that exceeded programmed amounts, and securing any sort of reprogramming action has been a challenge,” Martin said.
Martin said ensuring there are viable projects that receive proposals within the approved budgetary range has been one of the most challenging parts of the program. Another challenge, Martin said, is obtaining both A/E and construction contract capacity required in support of the ERCIP Program.
“Securing the required contract capacity to execute ERCIP projects under the centralized program has been challenging due to increased demand, and ensuring USACE has contract vehicles in place to support this mission is a priority for our organization,” he said.
Martin agreed with Cobb ‘s assessment of the best value of the program review is bringing all the players together while providing an opportunity for LRD, Louisville District and Huntsville Center, as well as other associated organizations, to collaborate and focus on the process works.
“Understanding the roles and responsibilities of all of the various players and recognizing you have a seat on this team bus and that your voice is going to be heard is vital to the program’s success,” Martin said.
“I think a meeting like this is builds stronger relationships that helps make ERCIP successful.”
Martin said now that Louisville District is the point for ERCIP construction, the system is working better than it did in the past when various Districts competed for funding.
“Embracing the ‘One Door to the Corps’ philosophy creates the structure for this program to function effectively.”