The Air Force is privatizing water, wastewater and electrical utilities at the Grand Forks Air Force Base and the Cavalier Air Force Station.
Deputy base civil engineer with the 219th Civil Engineer Squadron, Les Canarr, said this is part of an Air Force initiative to sell its utilities where possible to private firms who have more expertise – and how have promised to make upgrades.
"The program allows the Air Force to maximize utility reliability and increase our 'mission insurance,'" Canarr said. "The private companies can help us find innovations, make upgrades, build resiliance. They can do what we weren't allowed to do, because of regulations or funding limitations."
Base Utilities, Incorporated of Minot has been awarded the water and wastewater contract. It’s a 50 year contract, worth $285.5 million. Base Utilities has also committed to more than $10 million worth of upgrades.
"We've identified some water lines in need of repair," Canarr said. "The company has a neat system to make those repairs in as less-obtrusive a manner as possible."
Canarr said there are some other things the Air Force would like to see monitored.
"Real-time monitoring of pumps and water towers," Canarr said. "And the company can do some innovative things to provide real-time data we don't have the ability to do."
Nodak Electric Cooperative of Grand Forks got the contract for electrical service. It’s $85.5 million over 50 years, and Nodak will spend $1.7 million in improvements.
"We have done a good job on the electrical, in terms of burying lines," Canarr said. "Nodak's list is a little smaller, but it includes some things we couldn't get to financially or as quickly as they're needed."
Canarr said when all is said and done, the Air Force will get what it needs at a competitive price.