Aim High

Utility Privatization of Grand Forks Air Force Base and Cavalier Air Force Station

Nodak Electric Cooperative has done its best to make sure the Air Force lives up to that motto by providing safe, reliable and economical energy to the military branch for many years. Through a Utilities Privatization (UP) agreement signed in 2018, the partnership will continue for at least 50 years.

A member of Nodak Electric, the Air Force has purchased electricity from the cooperative for numerous military needs including missile, surveillance, fighter, bomber, air-tanker and drone missions. In 2018, that relationship changed when the UP Project Management Office at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center privatized utilities at the Grand Forks Air Force Base and the Cavalier Air Force Station.

UP began more than 20 years ago in response to the Defense Reform Initiative Directive 49 – mandating all military branches to develop plans to privatize utilities on military bases, such as electrical power, natural gas, water and wastewater treatment. UP establishes a partnership and direct investment for both the Air Force and Nodak because systems are privatized where fiscally attractive and operationally sound.

Nodak is the Grand Forks and Cavalier bases’ UP contractor for electrical power distribution infrastructure only. Nodak’s 50-year utility services contract becomes a “must-pay bill,” meaning funds will always be used for utility system maintenance, operation, renewals and replacements.

Cited benefits include:

  • Air Force funds industry standard upgrades to installation utility systems, in coordination with the contractor’s accepted schedule;
  • Air Force can focus resources on the core mission;
  • Base mission is not impacted during utility system transfer;
  • Military civil engineers still receive training on privatized systems when training is included in the utility services contract;
  • Readiness of installation personnel is not negatively impacted;
  • It provides long-term operational stability.

The process of UP began approximately six years ago, when the Air Force solicited contracting partners to privatize utilities on its military installations. Nodak submitted a Request for Proposal on Oct. 8, 2012. It consisted of four main parts:

  • An introduction of who Nodak is as a power supplier;
  • Nodak’s past performance based on information provided by existing commercial/industrial members;
  • Nodak’s steps on providing superior service;
  • Method of determining inventory costs.

On Dec. 1, 2018, Nodak Electric Cooperative became the owner, operator and maintainer of the electric utility infrastructure at the Grand Forks Air Force Base, located 14 miles west of the city of Grand Forks and the Cavalier Air Force Station, located 15 miles south of the U.S.-Canadian border.

During the negotiation phase, discussion centered on addressing initial system deficiencies, operating and maintenance cost adjustments, identification of special equipment needed, installation access to equipment and specific training requirements.

Nodak was awarded and signed the privatization contract in June 2018 with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and began a 150-day transition period to true-up actual physical inventory of distribution assets at both installations, order necessary equipment and materials, determine the number of credentialed workers needed, develop a training plan for air base personnel, find a suitable temporary service center building and procure any special equipment.

Nodak will continue to “Aim High” while providing services to the Air Force.

Photo courtesy of Grand Forks Air Force Base.