Military and industry leaders gathered for the annual Renewable Energy Industry Day to discuss opportunities for public-private collaboration to meet the military’s energy needs June 12 in Arlington, Va.
While making the event’s opening remarks, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Installations, Environment and Logistics Terry Yonkers spoke of the military’s challenge to be “energy secure” despite high demand, restricted budgets and growing fuel prices.
“As our budgets come down, our energy prices go up,” he said. “We need to reduce this trend in energy purchases. We believe in the long run, renewable energy is a reliable, economical alternative.”
The Air Force is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, spending more than $8.2 billion for electricity and fuel last year alone. Though the price tag was high, the Air Force also made strides in saving taxpayer dollars by making various changes across the service with an energy strategy to reduce demand, increase alternative fuel supply, such as solar power, and changing the culture by training Airmen to be more energy aware.
“The Air Force is fully committed to culture change, reducing demand and increasing supply,” Yonkers said. “The overriding concern is to secure energy for the future.”
One such effort is certifying the Air Force fleet to be ready for alternative fuels. Today, the Air Force has positioned 99 percent of its aircraft inventory to conduct unrestricted operations using alternatives to traditional petroleum-based fuels.
Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Katherine Hammack lauded the partnership between military energy leaders and industry experts.
“We see this as a forum for discussion about the approaches and technical challenges that the military and private sector might face together,” she said. “Many technologies will help us reach (our energy) goals.”