Edwards pushes for more summer energy conservation initiatives

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes
  • 95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
As the summer heat bakes Edwards, sizzling with it are the dollars that go to paying the base's energy bills as air conditioners -- the bulk of the bill -- start working.

In the summer, Team Edwards consumed about 600,000 kilowatt-hour of electricity, with the heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems in the base's industrial side taking the largest portion.

"The vast majority of the energy consumption is from the industrial side of the base because of its large facilities and population," said Enrique Torres, base energy manager. "During the day, about 10,000 people come in and out of these facilities."

As part of the Green Power Partnership program, the base buys its energy from Southern California Edison. About 50 percent of its energy comes from conventional power plants while the other half comes from renewable sources such as hydropower plants.

However, the base's electric bill tends to go higher during the summer season because of the warm temperatures. With this, Edwards is pushing more energy conservation efforts to save more money and energy.

"When we talk about energy conservation, it means saving our water, electricity and natural gas," Mr. Torres said. "For several years, Edwards has been on the front end of energy conservation, but we need to be consistent in our conservation efforts."

Additionally, various laws have mandated the base to pursue more energy conservation efforts. In July 2005, the U.S. Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which offers consumers and businesses federal tax credits for purchasing fuel-efficient hybrid-electric vehicles and energy-efficient appliances and products. In 2007, President George Bush also signed Executive Order 13423.

"The executive order is a stricter mandate for us to reduce 30 percent of our energy consumption by 2015, based on a 2003 baseline," said Dave Harrell, 95th Civil Engineer and Transportation Directorate mechanical systems manager. "For fiscal 2007, we have already reached an 18.1 percent reduction, so we have exceeded our 2010 mandate."

The base has to be creative in coming up with better alternatives and more energy conservation initiatives, he said.

The Civil Engineer and Transportation Directorate have set up various conservation initiatives. The Energy Savings Performance Contract program looks at capital improvements to base equipment including heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and lighting. The Solar Energy Enhanced Use Lease program allows the base to lease a parcel of land to private companies for energy development. The Energy Conservation Investment Program allots some military funds to develop energy conservation interests.

In the future, ECIP will automate the base's irrigation system to control the water sprinkling in common areas such as parks, soccer fields and the Muroc Lake Golf Course. Civil Engineers are using their Energy Monitoring and Control System and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System to automatically set building temperatures during working and non-working hours.

The Civil Engineer and Transportation Directorate will form an energy audit team to inspect buildings, especially those that consume a high amount of energy.

"We are trying to find ways to recommission our buildings to be more energy efficient," Mr. Torres said. "We are looking at lighting, air conditioning and other equipment."

Moreover, the base formed an energy team to raise awareness and began an initial planning stage for energy-reduction projects. The team is made up of technical experts from various base operations that work to ensure the base meets energy conservation requirements without affecting mission requirements.

"We also partnered with SCE to be involved with a lot of initiatives hosted by the California Public Utility Commission, which pays for the services," Mr. Torres said. "Recently, the base worked with SCE to replace all light bulbs in base housing with more energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs, free of charge. We are now expanding the CFL replacement to include other large building areas such as the commissary, dorms and lodging."

Additionally, the Civil Engineer and Transportation Directorate created Eddie Kilowatt, the energy-saving mascot whom advises the base community on utility reduction.

However, these initiatives would be fruitless without the base community's cooperation, Mr. Harrell said.

Recently, Maj. Gen. David Eichhorn, Air Force Flight Test Center commander, asked for Team Edwards' help to conserve energy.

"I'm going for transparency in all things," General Eichhorn said in an e-mail to the base. "We're going to publish our monthly (energy) consumption on the CenterNet along with our annual figures to let every one of you know how well we are doing at reducing our utility bills."

This affects everyone because money spent on energy can't be spent anywhere else, he said. People can be part of the solution by cutting back on energy usage on the job as well as at home.

"For years, we have been buying equipment that is more energy efficient, and designing our equipment and facilities to continue our energy conservation," Mr. Torres said. "However, we, as a whole, need to work together to conserve our energy. If I could pass on one message, the message would be for everyone to be more aware of their surroundings as we look at energy conservation."