Update as of March 6, 2020: At approximately 1930 EST yesterday, the Department of the Navy confirmed that they will be suspending RECP at all installations at the request of the Secretary of Defense and the FY 2020 Defense Bill. You can read the full directive here.
Update as of March 5, 2020: The Department of the Navy put out a memo on March 5, 2020 stating that all Navy and Marine Corps installations will continue to participate in the RECP program despite the Secretary of Defense’s directive for the suspension of RECP. They state that the reasoning is that it is policy for the Department of the Navy to hold any policy changes until specific guidelines have been given on how to do so. In the memorandum below, the Assistant Secretary of Defense states that those guidelines will be given within 90 days. You can read the full directive from the Department of the Navy here.
At the end of last year, the Department of Defense came out with some big changes for military families in 2020 with one of those big changes being the suspension of the RECP program. The FY 2020 Defense Bill stated that, in addition to other measures taken to protect service members and their families within privatized housing organizations, that the Resident Energy Management Program, or RECP, will be suspended until the Secretary of Defense can ensure that all houses are being properly metered.
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Several branches of the US military have already suspended the program on its own accord including the Air Force and the Army. However, the Marine Corps and the Navy continued to participate in the program despite many service members and their families complaining of how unfairly their homes were being metered and charged over the years.
However, as of February 25, 2020, acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter J. Potochney sent a memorandum to the Assistant Secretaries of the Navy, Army, and the Air Force directing that the suspension of RECP on DoD installations. The memorandum states that he is “suspending the Department’s RECP and instructing each of you to suspend any program carried out by your Department that measures the energy usage for individual units of MHPI housing on DoD installations.”
The memorandum also states that the suspensions are “effective no later than the end of the current utility billing cycle for MHPI housing” so that “MHPI projects or their third-party vendors to finalize utility bills for the current billing cycle and to issue final refunds or invoices to residents, if necessary.”
However, it is also noted that RECP can come back to individual duty stations if the congressional defense committees appointed by the Secretary of Defense find that 100% of the homes on an installation are being metered accurately for energy usage.
You can read the full memorandum here:
So what does the suspension of RECP mean for military families?
The memorandum was sent to the Assistant Secretaries of the Navy, Army, and Air Force on February 25th, which means that by the end of March all installations who currently utilize RECP will have suspended the program. Residents should expect a final bill for this billing cycle which may include a refund if applicable.
From that point forward, residents should not expect a bill from RECP, housing, or third-party utility companies until the Congressional Committees deem that energy metering is accurate for 100% of the homes on your installation. And knowing the military, this could take years.
Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions so far:
Will I still receive a bill?
No. According to the provided memorandum, all bills will cease. Before the program was introduced in 2012, military families did not pay for energy usage. After the program was established in 2012, which was done so in order to help mitigate the over-usage of energy, residents started to notice that the metering compared between houses in the same neighborhood was not accurate. Over the years, military families have pushed back against RECP which has landed us where we are today with the suspension of the program.
Will I continue to get reimbursed for going below the average energy threshold?
No. Since energy usage will not be monitored (although some report that they still receive notice of the amount of energy being used but not a billing statement), payments for going under the average energy usage will also cease.
What if I’m owed money?
You should get your money back. You should receive a closing statement with a refund in the amount you are owed at the end of the billing cycle.
Can RECP be reinstated?
The exact wording is a bit convoluted, but in short, yes- RECP can be reinstated at some point. The Assistant Secretary of Defense has 90 days to let the assistant secretaries of each branch know the guidelines and stipulations that installations must pass in order to reinstate RECP. The overarching stipulation is that 100% of the homes on an installation must show to be metered individually and accurately.
If RECP is reinstated will they still group homes together to calculate an average?
That hasn’t been made clear yet. One of the biggest issues many families have is that they are being charged comparatively to others in the neighborhood. This is especially a concern when many believe that their usage is being metered along with other public appliances such as street lights. Many also believe that unoccupied houses are weighed into the average, bringing the average usage lower and thereby increasing the number of families, and the amount, that they have to pay.
Will we be reimbursed for the money we have paid towards energy bills?
There is no directive that states that families will be reimbursed for monies paid towards energy bills during RECP. Many families went into serious financial strain due to RECP and some feel as though they are owed that money back, especially if it was not metered properly to begin with.
This is a Long Time Coming
Reports of neighbors having extremely different energy bills each month despite having the same size houses with similar energy use have surfaced for years, and advocates for getting RECP suspended have been collecting data and conducting surveys since the program went into place in 2012. Before the program started in 2012, military families did not pay for energy usage. RECP was established to decrease the abuse of energy usage in military housing and to encourage military families to “go green.” Shortly after the program started, however, residents began to question its validity due to the increasing number of discrepancies in billing and metering.
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Military families at installations across the United States, from every branch, have noted that homes within the same neighborhood have vastly different energy usage bills resulting in many to believe that their homes were connected to street lights or other public use utilities, or that empty homes were being added into the averages thereby lowering the average energy usage for residents and increasing their bills. The suspension of RECP lets military families know officials have started to listen to service members and their families about issues that have plagued us for years.
So Why is the Navy Not Complying with Orders?
In the directive put out by the Department of the Navy on March 5, 2020, they stated that it is policy to hold on making policy changes under direct guidelines on how to enact those policy changes is given. However, both the Army and the Air Force, which have a larger number of combined service members and installations, have already started the process to lift RECP from their installations. In fact, many had already stopped RECP before the memorandum from the Assistant Secretary of Defense was put out on February 25, 2020.
So that begs the question: Why can’t the Department of the Navy do the same? Why are they making their service members continue to foot the energy bill towards a program that has been shown to be inaccurate and unfair to those living in base housing? Why are we required to continue paying when other military branches have already taken charge against the discrepancies that have come to light while RECP has been active? What are they waiting for and whose hands are in their pockets to make sure RECP stays active?
If your installation does not suspend the RECP program within the next billing cycle, they are in violation of the order above. Contact your base commander, Congressman, or the assistant secretary of your branch to let them know that the installation or the private party venture (housing) is not suspending RECP as ordered by the memorandum above. Additionally, if you continue to receive bills after one full billing cycle, attach a copy of the memorandum above to your billing statement and send a copy to both your PPV, the energy management company, and the base commander.
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