Honeywell has announced a $3.4-million project to help improve energy security and surety at Fort Bragg, N.C. The company will build a microgrid that uses advance controls to network new and existing backup generators on the U.S. Army post, the first application of this technology for a federal agency. The electricity these assets produce will then be available across multiple buildings, helping maintain power for vital operations.

The Department of Defense (DOD) will finance the project through its Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), which identifies and demonstrates innovative, cost-effective technologies that address the department’s energy and environmental requirements. Along with the microgrid grant, DOD selected Honeywell for a second ESTCP-funded project, work that help trim expenses tied to the post’s central heating and cooling plant.

“Sites such as Fort Bragg present unique challenges due to the nature of their operations,” said Paul Orzeske, president of Honeywell Building Solutions. “They can’t lose power, but at the same time, they may be using too much power. Honeywell’s expertise in managing energy supply and demand allows us to develop solutions that help address both issues.”

Military installations are often at risk of outages due to a variety of external circumstances — weather events and disruptions on the utility grid, for example. Fort Bragg has traditionally used emergency generators to make sure electricity is available for mission-critical activities. These generators, however, are not usually shared between facilities. And that means there’s no backup to the backup power if there is a failure or maintenance issue. The equipment is often improperly sized as well, leading to inefficient operations and higher-than-necessary expenses.

With Honeywell’s Secured Network of Assured Power Enclaves (SNAPE), Fort Bragg expects to share emergency generation between multiple buildings and decrease overall energy use by requiring fewer generators to address energy interruptions. Additionally, the post will leverage its existing assets, helping reduce capital costs while bolstering security.

SNAPE, developed by Honeywell in association with utility- and energy-technology provider PowerSecure, can also connect the microgrid to the main electrical grid. As a result, Fort Bragg can automatically respond to signals from its utility, and temporarily reduce consumption when overall energy use spikes and strains the grid — also known as automated demand response.

Honeywell is also helping optimize Fort Bragg’s central plant to reduce energy use. Under the second ESTCP grant, Central Plant Optimization for Waste Energy Reduction (CPOWER), engineers will integrate predictive technology designed to cut consumption and costs by controlling the generation and distribution of cooling and heating energy and storage.

Construction for both projects is expected to be complete in early 2015.