Prepare now for possible winter energy restrictions

ANSBACH, Germany (August 12, 2022) – Many have already heard that Germany is considering rationing electricity and natural gas this fall and winter due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. How will this affect the U.S. Army community in Ansbach?

The European Union (EU) is facing a potential security of supply crisis with significantly reduced of gas deliveries from Russia and a serious risk of a complete halt, for which member states need to prepare immediately in a coordinated fashion and a spirit of solidarity, according to a Council of the European Union July 26 press release.

U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Ansbach Directorate of Public Works (DPW) Energy Office is already planning multiple scenarios so that the military community is prepared and ready.

“The EU Commission is recommending adoption of a natural gas only, at this time, reduction in usage of 15% which began August 1 and extends through the entire heating season (March 31, 2023),” said Brad Jennings, DPW energy manager.  “We are working with our energy partners at IMCOM-E (Installation Management Command-Europe) to determine the implications of this reduction to the garrison.”

USAG Ansbach installations rely solely on local German utility partners for power, heating, and water needs. In spite of all the solar panels and windmills in Germany, a large percentage of the energy used for heating within the EU is imported…much of it from Russia.

In winter 2021, energy costs in the EU were about three to five times more expensive than the previous year. According to DPW Energy, it is more expensive in Europe to power garrison operations than in the United States.

“Our German utility partners are governed by a set of German regulations for energy emergency situations,” said Jennings. “With the potential loss of a large chunk of available energy, the local utility companies are required to follow Germany’s energy emergency plan.”

In the German energy emergency plan not everyone will get all the power and water that they need explained Jennings.  Under the German plan, the most vulnerable communities will be served first…hospitals, elder care centers, necessary businesses like grocery stores, and family homes will be able to carry on although with some necessary cutbacks.

“While we are a ‘priority’ customer based upon our negotiated energy contracts,” Jennings said. “There is the potential that we will have to endure large cuts in available power and heating.

“We’ve probably all had to go without power and water for short periods…maybe even up to a week or two after a hurricane or other natural disaster, but this is a different story,” he said. “The potential for mandatory energy usage reductions within our community is high under a situation where our utility providers are unable to supply 100% of our normal demand.”

Recognizing the importance of continuing the mission in the EU, the Army is stepping in with investments in making the garrison more efficient via new LED lighting to be installed in most garrison buildings along with plans to install solar panels to allow for sustaining essential operations even if the German utility partners can’t supply all of the installation energy needs.

“One way that they can do this is to control the temperature of the hot water that they send to our radiators,” said Jennings. “Basically, our radiators would be delivering slightly lower temperature water that would lower room temperatures by one to three degrees Fahrenheit.”

Jennings explained much depended on how cold it will get this winter. “In the event of a disruption in home and building heat, DPW, working with our German utility providers, can make some adjustments to building temperatures.

“This will create a noticeably chillier feel to the temperatures inside the home and workplace,” he said. “In addition, water temperatures from showers and taps could be lowered.”

In the event of an energy disruption, here are some simple things to do to get ready:

  • Put on extra clothing or an extra blanket…even inside.
  • Take care to minimize drafts from open doors and windows.
  • Practice good humidity control by opening a window for (only) a few minutes a day. A humid room will feel colder.
  • Keep the radiator or thermostat turned down while away from home.
  • Immediately report radiator or other heating unit malfunctions.
  • Minimize long, hot showers by lowering the temperature, water pressure and keeping shower time to five minutes or less. Take short showers instead of baths.
  • Use cold water instead of hot.
  • Don’t let the water run while brushing teeth or washing dishes in the sink.
  • Make sure washing machines and dishwashers are full before using them.
  • Unplug unneeded or seldom used appliances like extra fridges or water coolers.

“We all come to Germany bringing with us our stateside energy behaviors,” said Jennings.  “And, who can blame us, we come from the land of plenty.  But, if we can start now, we can prepare ourselves for what could be a very challenging winter season.”

The energy office held recent discussions with German utility providers and were told they are working to try to keep potential disruptions to energy at a minimum for all of their customers.

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