Currently, military members who live in "privatized" military housing do not have to pay for utilities. As a result, many military families are not motivated to conserve. This is about to change.
In the near future, military members who live in "privatized" military housing will be held financially responsible for their utility use.
As a first step, the Army is implementing a "mock billing" plan at the following selected privatized housing sites, beginning on May 1:
- Fort Carson, Colo.
- Fort Hood, Texas
- Fort Meade, Md.
- Fort Lewis, Wash.
- Fort Campbell, Ky.
Three additional installations will begin the program later this year: Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Stewart, Ga..; and Fort Belvoir, Va.
As part of the first phase of the program, military families living in privatized housing at the above installations will receive mock bills, showing their utilities use/consumption, but will not have to pay any out-of-pocket expense.
The mock billing program will gage average energy consumption at the installations for a period of one year.
Meter readings at some locations actually began last fall, but the mock utility billing program was postponed until May. Meter readings are being used to gave the average monthly usage rate for electricity, gas, and heating oil.
Military officials plan to actually start charging military families for excessive utility consumption sometime in mid-2006. Once average consumption rates are computed, families that use less than the average rate will earn a rebate or credit (which can be used on future monthly bills), and families who use more than the average rate will have to pay the difference.
Along with the mock bills this year, families participating in the test program will also receive monthly energy tips and training on how to be more “energy efficient."
Officials state that if military members and their families use utilities in a conscientious manner, their BAH (Housing Allowance) should cover all costs (rent and utilities) in privatized military housing. However, if they use more than the set "average rate" for the housing area, they can expect to pay additional utility costs.
Only new and fully renovated houses fall under the program, because these homes are energy efficient, or "energy-star compliant." As older military housing units are fully renovated, they will be included under the program.
More than 50,000 military family housing units at 23 installations have been turned over to private developers. The companies manage the housing and collect rent through Soldiers’ Basic Allowance for Housing. In return, the companies provide property management services, renovate existing homes and build new housing.
The mock billing program is scheduled to last a year. After this period, he said the Army will make adjustments (if needed) to the program and then begin the phase where Soldiers will be responsible for use of their utilities. The other services will implement the program shortly thereafter.