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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340

Date: October 13, 2006
No: 06-41

NSTAR gets $8.23 million to upgrade U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center electric system

NATICK, Mass. --- NSTAR Electric Company won an $8.23 million contract from the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC) in Virginia to upgrade the high voltage electrical distribution system at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC).

NSTAR and DESC (the Army Contracting Office for privatization at SSC) signed the contract on Sept. 29, and Army officials said the upgrades will begin this fall and will last for about one year.

John Manning, acting garrison manager, said that NSTAR Electric will install a new, underground, looped high voltage distribution system across the installation as well as new transformers to power more than two dozen laboratory, administration, and other buildings on the 78-acre research and development facility.

The existing more than 50-year-old electrical distribution system including aerial cable and wooden utility poles will ultimately be demolished, he said.

Upon completion of the upgraded electrical distribution system, NSTAR will own and operate it, taking over maintenance and upkeep responsibilities from the Army.

Manning credited Dave Duncan, leader of the SSC Privatization Team, for his hard work, persistence, and dedication in making this privatization a success.

Duncan, a professional engineer and chief of the SSC's Engineering Division, praised his team for their hard work as well. He summed up the effort, which began in 1998, as a "great day for the installation."

Duncan said, "When our last electrical engineer retired in 1993, his parting words to me were, 'You'd better work on replacing those poles before they fall over.' That day has finally arrived. By installing this new, industry-standard, high voltage distribution system, we're likely to have far fewer power outages and a lot more reliability to meet the needs of our mission tenants who are performing critical R&D to improve the quality of life for the Soldier every day."

Duncan said this contract award did not come easily.

"There were many starts, stops, delays, and hurdles during the approximately eight years working toward this electrical upgrade and privatization. We worked very closely with personnel at both DESC, and C.H. Guernsey and Associates (a national engineering firm contracted with DoD to assist installations with the privatization effort) for quite some time," he said.

Duncan explained that DoD began working with utility companies in 1998 to privatize its utility systems. But because most DoD utility systems were in need of major upgrades, utility companies showed little interest. In reaction, DoD tried to encourage privatization by suggesting that utility companies finance the necessary upgrades and accept reimbursement from the government over an agreed upon period of time. This proposal, too, was not popular. Seeing the value in privatization, Congress eventually stepped in and began setting aside funds for utility privatization projects.

"After years of hard work and designing by all parties," said Duncan, "it was finally our year to get money."

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This page last updated on 10 May 2006.