Exide wins $625 million Air Force contract

Exide Electronics Group Inc. late last month said it won an Air Force contract to provide up to $625 million worth of uninterruptible power systems (UPS) and other equipment to any military or civilian agency.

The contract awarded by the Air Force's Air Logistics Center in Sacramento Calif. will run three years with two single-year option periods Exide officials said. The award follows an initial contract to Exide last June that was successfully protested forcing the Air Force to start a new procurement.

John Breckenridge director of federal systems at the Raleigh N.C. company emphasized that the contract will be open to any federal agency and will permit the company to tailor solutions to a wide range of needs. He said the flexibility of the contract and provisions allowing Exide to provide ancillary equipment such as diesel generators mark a sharp contrast to the predecessor contract - also won by Exide - which expired in 1993.

"On the previous contract the bulk of the work we did was for the [Federal Aviation Administration] " Breckenridge said. "We did work on that contract for just about every civilian agency and we will probably do even more of that on this contract."

In a nutshell UPS technology converts alternate current electricity from utility companies to direct current the type generated by batteries. The UPS housed in casing roughly the size of a refrigerator is connected to a battery system that provides about 15 minutes worth of power during an outage. UPS are typically used to back up large computers such as mainframes but also for radar systems and critical telecommunications equipment.

Susie Cross power quality material group manager at the Air Logistics Center said the contract will cover a range of equipment including generators enclosures transformers rack mounts and other power-related hardware. But she added that all users of the contract must purchase UPS hardware to be eligible to buy ancillary equipment and that all users must allow Exide to perform a site survey to determine the appropriate UPS solution.

Breckenridge said his company will offer a variety of UPS solutions ranging from a 125-kilovolt amp system with enough juice to support a small mainframe to a 1 000-kilovolt amp system for larger operations. Units may also be connected to support entire data centers.

The initial contract was rescinded by the General Accounting Office after a protest ruling declared that the volume of sales designated by the Air Force was unrealistic. That solicitation called for a maximum of 1 100 UPS units and was worth nearly $1 billion. The new contract calls for up to 600 units Breckenridge said.

The first award was protested by L.H. Comstock and Liebert Corp. Both companies also competed in the second procurement but have not protested to date.

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