Help Me Interview the Navy’s Energy Czar

Image Credit: defencetalk.com

On Wednesday I have an interview at the Pentagon with Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, who is in charge of a hugely ambitious program to green the Navy. What should I ask her?

Though I have my own questions, I’d like to know yours. Reply by either sending me an email or, even better, making a comment on this post.

I first saw Ms. Pfannenstiel (pronounced “fan-in-steel”) when she gave a presentation at a 25×25 conference last month. She spoke about the Navy’s  plans to transform its relationship to energy and fuel — especially ambitious considering the Navy’s vast size and reach. The U.S. Navy is bigger than the next 13 navies combined, and is the second-largest consumer of energy in the U.S. government.  Any organization that uses 30 million barrels of oil a year has the chance to exert enormous influence over its contractors, suppliers and competitors.

The stakes are high: 30 military installations are at risk from rising sea levels, and the Navy risks lives and spends vast resources protecting the flow of oil from volatile countries to the U.S., and to supply the military’s planes, ships and bases around the world. Also, higher-ups have realized that renewable energy and efficiency can save the Navy a boatload of money.

Pfannenstiel didn’t rise through the ranks, but won her appointment in March after a long career with Pacific Gas & Electric in California. Her boss, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, is one of the most zealous advocates in the armed forces for reducing energy use and deploying renewable energy.

The Navy's ambitious energy-reduction goals.

His marching orders for the Navy are detailed in this slide below from Pfannenstiel’s presentation. To recap, Mabus wants to have a green strike group in local operations by the end of this year and deployed by 2016; reduce use of petroleum in vehicles by 50 percent by 2015; have half of all shore-based operations powered from renewable sources by 2020, and in that same year have 50 percent of the Navy’s installations be carbon neutral.

To emphasize just how Herculean this task is, compare the Navy’s goals to those of California, where Pfannenstiel served as chair of the state Energy Commission. California’s legislature is struggling to agree on a goal for utilities to gather just 33 percent of their electricity from renewable energy by 2020.

Laughable or laudable? What more do you want to know? Hit me back.

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