VerdeXchange 2018

Dan Cohee      PDE Total Energy Solutions - Vice President

On the 6th of March, 2018, I settle down at my desk and call the Vice President of PDE Total Energy Solutions, Dan Cohee. Dan had recently spoken at VerdeXchange 2018, a Southern California conference on clean and green technology deployed on Military Microgrids and the Department of Defense facilities. We discussed his role in the panel, his role in the company, and what he took away from Verde 2018.

As a returning speaker from 2016, Dan was re-invited to speak at the conference. While VerdeXchange draws speakers from around the United States, PDE Total Energy Solutions is typically invited to speak due to their unique nature of being local to the conference, their relevant projects deployed in California in clean energy, and their work with sophisticated and innovative projects. The conference, held at the Los Angeles Hotel is very well attended with both industry subject matter executives and veterans. PDE Total Energy Solutions is one of the few design build contractors who do military microgrid work in the Los Angeles area.

Dan’s panel in 2018 discussed 21st Century Resiliency: Microgrids in the DOD (Department of Defense) and built in California. He spoke specifically on the United States Military deploying microgrids and renewable energy. But how do you define a microgrid?  Dan believes the MIT definition which defines a microgrid as “a number of consumers with a power source able to function connected to the local gird, but can also function independently from the local grid. This allows for interconnected loads and distributed energy resources with clearly defined electrical boundaries. Microgrids are single controllable entities with respect to the grid – either grid-connected or functioning independently in island mode.”

After Dan defined microgrids for the attendees, he recited the Department of Defense energy statistics, reciting a business case for the work PDE Total Energy Solutions. The DOD being the single largest consumer of energy in the United States, with 570,000 buildings over 400 bases is the highest consumer of energy at a cost of $4.1 billion-dollar yearly. As required by the Secretary of the Navy’s mandates to lower the DOD’s ecological footprint, cut operating expenses, and reduce the US military’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels highlights the integration of renewables energy to DOB facilities. In addition, many DOD bases have mission critical applications that require absolute energy surety and reliability.  Microgrids, which can function even if the local power grid is down, allow for the DOD to maintain these mission-critical applications and run in island mode, thus preserving the uninterrupted flow of power to critical operations.

Military microgrids provide operational security and sustain operations regardless of what is happing on the larger utility grid or in a war zone. This creates energy independence regardless of the location or conditions the operation is based in. The DOD also has a long-term goal of net zero energy, with planned milestones such as going 25% renewable by 2025 and 50% by 2050.

PDE Total Energy solutions has already done work to the standard of the DOD, including: 29 Palms MCAGCC 10MW Microgrid, Port Hueneme Forward Operating Base microgrid, Port Hueneme Microgrid Test Bed, and ETI NZE+, the largest Net Zero retrofit building in the country.

Dan mentioned that the most challenging part of the task was staying on-topic to the moderator’s goals, as he felt it would have been easy to expand on and discuss specific examples of projects completed. The highlight of the conference was being a local California contractor with proven real time projects in California and able to share the success with members of the US military in charge of the energy, which he feels gave credibility to his business and their capabilities. He was also approached after the panel by individuals interested in networking & collaborating and acquiring knowledge from the topic that Dan spoke on; establishing himself and PDE as a leader in DOD technology and renewables.

Outside of his own panel, Dan sat in and watched the CCA (Community Choice Aggregation) for Lancaster. The panel was centered on the debate about ex-utility executives and the ensuing debate between The City of Lancaster moving forward with a CCA in lieu of the local power provider. He pointed out that the spirited debate and vested interest from both sides of the party made the panel stand out.

Overall, VerdeXchange 2018 left Dan feeling positive about the DOD moving forward with more microgrids based on the proven reliability and surety of PDE projects completed on DOD facilities. Dan felt that PDE will have increased work in the military space. Dan looks forward to the collaborative meetings he has scheduled with other VerdeXchange participants. Dan hopes to speak again in 2020 on similar topics, such as integration of renewable energy, production of water, or military microgrids. He leaves us off with a final quote – that he felt VerdeXchange was “engaging, enlightening, and a highly productive conference.”