Protect power, enhance readiness

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The Air Force’s theme of “Protect the Power” serves as a call to action for members of our Air Force community to practice energy efficient habits in their daily lives.

Resiliency of our energy supply and distribution systems is now our number one goal. D-M is out in the forefront in this area, working with our local electric utility supplier, Tucson Electric Power, on several concepts for the base’s power supply and distribution system. These concepts range from improvements to the electric substation feeding the base to energy storage and generation initiatives. The former would improve our power quality on a day-to-day basis while the latter would provide a back-up power capability to keep the base’s critical missions operational, even in the event of a long-term, widespread power grid outage.

It takes a lot of money to keep a base the size of Davis-Monthan running. In fact, D-M spends more than $8 million a year on utilities – to put it into perspective that equates to nearly $900 per hour – just to keep lights and air conditioning on, and water flowing. Davis-Monthan continues to be one of the Defense Department leaders in energy conservation and renewable energy, due in large part to having one of the Air Force’s largest solar plants. Although the plant generates approximately $1.5 million per year of renewable solar power for the base, we can and will always strive to do better. We’ve received funding authority for three energy conservation initiatives in the upcoming year, including one multi-facility LED lighting improvement project, a project to install automated meter reading equipment base-wide, and an airfield lighting upgrade.

D-M has awarded a base wide Energy Savings Performance Contract, which is currently in the initial assessment phase. ESPCs provide a unique and innovative way for bases to reduce energy usage and improve base infrastructure and facilities, utilizing private industry to provide up-front financing for facility improvements, which are returned over time by the energy savings generated from the improvements. The ESPC management team will likely be visiting your facilities in the coming months to evaluate them for potential energy saving opportunities!

Additionally, D-M is leading the way to upgrade building energy control systems for cyber security. The contract to upgrade energy controls systems in more than 130 facilities base wide was just recently awarded, and is currently in the initial stages of execution. In addition to the enhanced cyber security, this project will give us the ability to significantly reduce energy costs by improving control of heating and cooling systems across the base.

Of course, no program can be successful without buy-in and participation from its core members. As Airmen and civilians, you are key to reducing energy and water use.

For the workplace, the Air Force has developed some basic recommendations that can make optimizing facility energy usage as easy as 1- 2 – 3:

• Use the right light for the job or task

• At the end of the day, power down your space

• Inform your building manager if you notice drafts, air leaks, other HVAC issues, or standing water

For us here in southern Arizona, it’s not always easy to conserve energy. According to the National Weather Service, whose records date back to the 1890s, Tucson is experiencing its warmest summers on record. Since our air-conditioning requirements make up more than 50 percent of our overall energy usage, the rising temperatures have a significant impact on our overall utility costs.

Even with the record temperatures, however, the smallest adjustments to your daily habits can have a major impact. For example, you can reduce costs up to 3 percent for each degree the thermostat is raised in summer months, or lowered during winter. Recalling that number from earlier, 3 percent of $8 million can add up to a huge savings.

For more information, call Gary Krivokapich at 520-228-6026.

Courtesy of
355th Civil Engineer Squadron Energy