Given the increasing frequency, duration, and consequences of power disruptions, whether natural or manmade, the Department of Defense (DoD) has committed to strengthening energy security and resilience. Resilient energy project development must be accelerated and scaled to meet DoD policy requirements and respond to the evolving threat environment. Converge Strategies, LLC and the Idaho National Laboratory, together the “MERC Team,” executed the Military Energy Resilience Catalyst (MERC) program, a technology transition accelerator for energy resilience projects that includes an enduring online community of DoD energy resilience practitioners. MERC’s objective was to improve DoD project development by identifying and disseminating standardized, widely deployable practices.

Technology Description

The MERC Team deployed a set of three distinct and complementary efforts to better establish, replicate, and scale resilient energy project development across DoD. These efforts included:

  • Providing direct facilitation and technical assistance to projects through Installation Resilience Workshops,
  • Establishing a permanent and user-friendly Online Community, and
  • Creating a MERC Network of energy professionals to support ongoing innovation.

Demonstration Results

The MERC program was evaluated against seven key performance objectives. MERC has resulted in a more connected, active, informed, and effective DoD resilience community. Notable outcomes of the program include:

  • Two full-year MERC Cohorts representing each of the Military Services,
  • A growing MERC Faculty, numbering over 40 members, to provide on-call expertise and assistance to the MERC Cohort,
  • Direct support to more than 40 installations through the MERC program, and
  • Nine Installation Resilience Workshops that identified concrete energy project opportunities.

Costs of the MERC program were divided into the following elements: labor, travel/other direct costs (ODCs), workshop labor, and workshop travel/ODCs. The bulk of costs were in labor – conducting resilience workshops, recruiting, and supporting the MERC Network, and organizing the associated programming for Network events, regular meetings, and technical support.

Implementation Issues

The two largest issues faced during implementation were:

  • Time and Availability: Cohort members are busy DoD professionals maintaining full-time jobs as Installation Energy Managers, project managers, and community outreach specialists, among others. Cohort members often fill more than one role at their installation due to staffing needs, and many faced competing priorities during the period of performance.
  • Frequent Turnover: Energy resilience positions at DoD installations see high turnover. Several Cohort members changed roles or jobs during their Cohort tenure.