U.S. Air Force officials have finalized a contract that privatizes the electrical systems at Hill Air Force Base. The Defense Logistics Agency Energy assisted the Air Force in finalizing the 50-year contract with City Light & Power, Inc. The contract is worth more than $280 million dollars and will help employees at Hill modernize and maintain the base’s decaying electrical systems. City Light & Power officials say they plan on investing about $5 million in the first year to fully update the current system.
Richard Weston is the chief of utilities privatization for the Air Force. He says bringing in outside companies to run the Air Force’s utilities helps them deal with issues that were essentially being ignored.
“Over the last 25 - 30 years, 20 - 30 years depending on how you look at it, utility systems haven’t been maintained at the standards that we insist that they should be maintained because the lack of funds," he says. "I mean, the funds have been going to other areas, fighting the wars, etc.”
Weston also says privatization will help save the Air Force money, comparing the situation at Hill to what happens when someone doesn’t properly maintain his car.
“So if you don’t change the oil at all the engine is going to eventually die but it didn’t cost you any maintenance fees. It’s a whole lot cheaper to maintain a steady state and do the maintenance as you go along," he syas. "Unfortunately, that’s what’s been going on with the Air Force and we’re seeing it in the infrastructure and as I said in the outages at buildings.”
Earlier this year Hill Air Force base also privatized their water and sewer systems. Weston says in the past 15 years the Air Force has privatized 65 utility systems and saved the U.S. Government about $337 million.