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Mock bills show Keesler Airmen energy costs in user-friendly way

  • Published
  • By Susan Griggs
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Keesler is bolstering its energy conservation campaign by sending statements to managers of metered facilities that detail monthly electrical and natural gas use for their building.

These mock bills are intended to illustrate the base's energy consumption in a more meaningful way, according to Billy Stevenson, the operations engineering manager for the base operating support contractor. He worked on creating the program for more than a year and thinks the documents will show a lot of information in a way utility end users will understand.

Initial mock bills were sent out Oct. 23 for the 403rd Wing, the 81st Communications Squadron, the 85th Engineering Installation Squadron, the Keesler AFB Commissary, the Exchange and the 81st Force Support Squadron.

"Our energy management office is continuing to develop and expand this program to include all metered facilities over the coming months in order to provide base personnel, facility managers, and leadership with real time information on our energy consumption in order to aid in conserving our valuable resources," Stevenson said.

Keesler AFB's energy goals are based on the Air Force goal of a 30 percent energy reduction from the fiscal year 2003 baseline by the end of fiscal 2015.

"In order to achieve this goal, Keesler's facilities would need to reduce their energy use by 11 percent over this fiscal year," Stevenson commented.

Stevenson said that the base's utility expenses average about $1 million each month. Since building occupants don't pay for electricity, gas and water use, it's easy to overlook Keesler AFB's significant energy costs.

"It's easy to take energy for granted," Stevenson said. "Our challenge is making people realize that energy doesn't come from some limitless, magical source. Right now, building occupants are blind to the process, but the mock bills will help base leaders and building custodians become stakeholders in the energy conservation process."

Electricity, gas and water use is measured with meters. Some can be checked remotely, while others must be read manually. A project is underway to reduce the number of manual meters and expand the system with more remote meters, more readings and greater accountability.

Back in September 1981, a front page story in the “Keesler News” documented the base's last-ditch effort to meet its fiscal year energy savings goal by cutting off air conditioning for several sweltering weeks. Keesler AFB was just shy of its conservation goal at year's end.

Stevenson observed that 30 years ago, the base could turn off the AC to save electricity, but those actions would be unrealistic in modern buildings with no windows, sophisticated computers and electronic equipment, and carpets and upholstery where mold and mildew can flourish.

Although the size of a facility is a factor in energy consumption, Stevenson noted that some of the base's largest structures make the best use of energy resources.

"For example, Keesler Medical Center consumes a lot due to its size, but it's a very energy-efficient complex," he said. "Energy efficiency has been considered and implemented in every step of new construction and renovation."

Replacement of the base's aging infrastructure for heating, ventilation and air conditioning is making a huge impact on conservation efforts, Stevenson said.

Currently, base officials have started two energy reduction projects that are installing dedicated heat recovery units as pre-heaters for domestic and facility heating water systems, while providing chill water for facility cooling. Other projects have been developed to install more efficient heat exchangers in place of outdated natural gas water heaters at Shaw House and Blake Fitness Center.

But even small things, like turning off lights, reporting maintenance issues and unplugging appliances when not in use can have a significant cumulative effect. Stevenson gestured toward the ceiling in his conference room and pointed out that only half of the lights were turned on, but the room still had plenty of light. Virtually all computers on base are equipped with "sleep modes" so they don't have to be turned off at the end of the day -- while still electricity costs at a minimum.

"I'm a dollar-and-cents kind of guy,” Stevenson said. “It does no good to turn off the lights if we can't do the mission. We have to be smart and do our homework -- if we get too aggressive, we can make mistakes that will be costly to repair. It takes all of us making a conscious effort to reduce our costs and conserve our resources."