State Proposes Energy, Security Projects For Sub Base
By Julia Bergman
December 16, 2015
Groton — Funding for security improvements related to a commercial railroad that runs through the Naval Submarine Base and for continued development of an electricity microgrid at the base are the latest state-funded projects proposed for the base.
The first project would enhance security around the Providence and Worcester Railroad, which bisects the base. Right now, a lot of manpower is involved in monitoring the railroad encroachment, according to Bob Ross, executive director of the state Office of Military Affairs.
"This has been a problem for the base for a long time," Ross said by phone Wednesday.
The project would enhance security and also relieve pressure on human resources, according to Chris Zendan, spokesman for the base.
The proposed project would cost $1.2 million and include replacing or repairing about 4,500 feet of fencing along the rails to enhance physical security of restricted areas within the perimeter of the base, and installing virtual gates "at both railroad encroachment sites using detectors, lasers, infrared detectors, and motion sensors," Zendan said by email.
"The system will be solar-powered with back-up power and integrated into the base security center," he said.
The second project funds phase two of a "smart energy" electricity microgrid at the base that would draw power from on-site alternative energy sources. A microgrid, which could provide electricity for the base around the clock and provide a backup system during power outages, could reduce the base's operating costs and protect it from an electrical grid attack.
The Navy paid for the first phase of the project, which involved examining how to tie the microgrid into the commercial grid. The second phase, which is expected to cost $1.1 million, will involve a detailed study of the electrical distribution system, including how to upgrade all the switching and distribution of electrical power on base, Ross said.
The second phase "lays the groundwork for the build-out of the microgrid," he said.
Earlier this month at the ribbon-cutting for the base's new $4.7 million state-of-the art dive locker — paid for by the state — Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment Dennis V. McGinn received the offers from Ross with various stipulations from the state. Those stipulations essentially say that the Navy is going to use the funding for the specific projects outlined and that it will brief Ross on any updates and let him know when the projects are complete.
The primary goal of the Office of Military Affairs is to protect the base from another Base Realignment and Closure round. States have increasingly spent money to fix the infrastructure at bases and military installations located within their borders. The aim is to protect them from closure and preserve their role as economic generators, according to a recent report by the Associated Press.
So far, Connecticut has spent about $14 million of the $40 million that was set aside by the General Assembly in 2007 for infrastructure improvements on the base. The proposals would be the seventh and eighth projects paid for by the state.
"We are not in a rush here," Ross said. "We are carefully choosing projects that the Navy says will enhance the military value of the base."
Navy officials must "justify" all proposed projects before Ross presents them to the state bond commission, which approved these next two projects in May. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus now must approve the projects before any work can begin.