By David DeKunder, 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 23, 2020
Through a state grant, Joint Base San Antonio is slated for $9 million in upgrades to bolster physical security for its electrical infrastructure and replace overhead transmission lines with underground lines at one of its installations.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced April 1 that the Texas Military Preparedness Commission had awarded $5 million from the state’s Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant, or DEAAG, program to the Alamo Area Council of Governments, or AACOG. Grant funds will be utilized to improve power distribution throughout San Antonio and JBSA.
“The strength of our military communities in Texas is unparalleled in part because of state support like the DEAAG program,” Abbott said. “Not only are the 15 major military installations and Army Futures Command in Texas critical for the defense of our nation, they also add over $101 billion to the state’s economy and support, directly and indirectly, more than 224,000 jobs in communities across this great state.”
In addition, CPS Energy, which provides electrical infrastructure and power to JBSA installations, will provide $3.4 million in matching funds and $600,000 for in-kind contributions for electrical infrastructure improvements at JBSA, for a project total of $9 million.
“This grant is an excellent example of the collaborative community relationships we are so fortunate to have at JBSA," said Brig. Gen. Laura L. Lenderman, 502nd Air Base Wing and JBSA commander. "The resiliency of our installation infrastructure is vital to the success of our missions.
"We're extremely grateful for our close partnership with the Alamo Area Council of Governments and our public utility, CPS Energy, who worked closely with us in support of this effort," Lenderman said. "Once again, this initiative proves that together, we really are stronger.”
DEAAG funds will be used to upgrade physical security for 11 electrical substations, operated by CPS Energy, that provide power to mission-critical on-base facilities and infrastructure for JBSA, including the NSA Texas substation.
Grant funds will also be utilized to remove transmission lines in three of the four aircraft safety clear zones at JBSA-Randolph, burying those lines underground. A total of 25 utility poles will be removed, resulting in a total of 8,990 linear feet of overhead conductor powerlines being placed underground.
Placing and burying the transmission lines underground will improve safety for aircraft crews, mitigating the risk posed to them if an accident occurs.
The physical security upgrades CPS Energy plans to make to the electrical substations that provide power to JBSA installations will provide additional protections against vehicles or large rifle projectiles.
Melissa Sorola, CPS Energy interim senior director of corporate communications and marketing, said work on the projects specified in the grant are expected to start in May and be completed within two years as required by the grant.
CPS Energy CEO Paula Gold-Williams said having a secure electrical infrastructure for JBSA is a priority for the public utility.
“We recognize the importance of security around this infrastructure, and we’re thrilled that we can work with AACOG and JBSA to accomplish this as a team,” Gold-Williams said.
AACOG officials commented on the benefits the DEAAG grant will provide for both JBSA and the public.
“This DEAAG grant will promote military installation resiliency and bolster an already strong public-public partnership between AACOG and JBSA,” said Diane Rath, AACOG executive director.
Larry Dotson, AACOG compatible use program manager, said the grant funds will benefit the public because the same electrical substations that power JBSA installations also serve nearby municipal customers and communities.
“The increased physical security of the substations will help assure power to the surrounding communities as well,” Dotson said.
Dotson said AACOG submitted the application for the DEAAG grant in February. As a political entity of the state, AACOG met the criteria to submit the grant application on behalf of JBSA. AACOG is a voluntary association of local governments that cover 13 area counties, including San Antonio and Bexar County.
Dotson said the scope of the projects included in the grant came about through the JBSA Public/Public/Public/Private Community Partnership Initiative, or P4, process.
The improvements to the electrical infrastructure that serve JBSA and surrounding CPS Energy customers will provide a boost to the local economy, according to Dotson.
“It will infuse the local economy with $8.4 million ($5 million in grant funding, $3.4 million in matching CPS Energy funds) in economic construction that will go towards the companies that bid and are awarded the actual work,” Dotson said.