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Ohio Air Guard officials expand solar energy field

by Capt. Gary Bentley
180th Fighter Wing executive officer

1/11/2010 - SWANTON, Ohio (AFNS) -- Officials from the 180th Fighter Wing Air National Guard Base at the Toledo Express Airport in Ohio celebrated the fourth phase expansion of their solar field Jan. 5 here.

The expansion is expected to increase the solar power produced to a total of about 1.2 megawatts, or 37 percent of the base's electrical needs, said Lt. Col. William Giezie, the 180th Civil Engineer Squadron commander.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur joined Col. Mark Bartman, the 180th FW commander, joined other base officials at the largest solar field in the state of Ohio and largest on any National Guard base in the country.

Development and construction of the 180th FW solar field began in 2006 when Congresswoman Kaptur obtained Department of Defense Research and Development Testing and Engineering funds for the base to develop a renewable energy site. After extensive evaluation of the available technology combined with the environmental conditions found in northwest Ohio, it was determined that a cadmium telluride thin film semi-conductor would produce the greatest quantity of electricity with the low and diffuse light conditions present in the Toledo area, Colonel Giezie said.

Since its inception, the solar field has produced a total of 827 megawatt-hours, or 21 percent of the base's total electrical requirements. In less than two years, the base has saved about $140,000 in electricity costs, Colonel Bartman said. He added that the hope is to fill the remainder of the 10-acre site with more solar panels and to put solar panels on rooftops.

Colonel Bartman added that in addition to using alternative forms of energy, the 180th FW is committed to reducing its overall energy usage.

"We have upgraded boiler systems to high efficiency modulating units in 9 of our buildings and have installed high efficiency LED lighting around the base," he said.

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