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Air Force leads the way as Green Power Partner

by Jennifer Elmore
Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency

2/25/2011 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The Air Force is one of the nation's top purchasers of green power, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Top 25 list of Green Power Partners released this month.

The Air Force is being recognized for its purchase and on-site production of 243.9 million kilowatt-hours of green power from U.S. renewable facilities built after 1997. The Air Force use of renewable energy ranks number one in the Department of Defense, number two in the federal government, and number 15 among 1,300 Green Power Partners including large corporations and municipalities such as Dallas and Houston. In addition, Air Force officials purchased 250 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy from facilities built before 1997 for a total renewable usage of 493.9 million kilowatt-hours.

The EPA Green Power program only gives credit to renewable energy produced at U.S. facilities built after 1997.

"Green power" is defined by the partnership as electricity that is partially or entirely generated from environmentally preferable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, and low-impact biomass and hydro resources.

"The use of 243.9 million kilowatt-hours of green power is comparable to removing greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 33,497 cars or 21,261 homes a year," said Dick Fillman, an engineer who focuses on renewable energy at the Air Force Facility Energy Center, located at the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.

Air Force officials purchased less green power in 2010 than in years past, which actually signifies a step forward due to more renewable energy generation capacity on Air Force bases.

"In an ideal situation, we'd prefer to produce all renewable energy on-base eliminating the need to purchase it on the open market," said AFFEC Director Rick Stacey, "but we're not there yet."

The Air Force Infrastructure Energy Implementation Plan includes a three-tiered approach for achieving renewable energy goals. First, develop on-site renewable energy resources to the extent economically and technically feasible. Second, procure renewable power from off-site resources delivered over the power grid; and third, purchase renewable energy certificates if the renewable energy from on-base projects and commercial purchases falls short of the annual Air Force goal.

More than 6 percent of all facility energy used by the Air Force comes from green power sources which is more than the federally mandated renewable-energy goal of 5 percent by 2010.

In 2015, renewable energy is expected to make up more than 10 percent of all electricity used by the Air Force. Examples of Air Force renewable energy projects include: 14.2 megawatt photovoltaic solar array at Nellis AFB, Nev.; one megawatt photovoltaic solar array at Buckley AFB, Colo.; 388 kilowatt photovoltaic thin-film integrated membrane roof on the base exchange at Luke AFB, Ariz.; 2.3 megawatt landfill gas generator at Hill AFB, Utah; 3.32 megawatt wind generation at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; 400 kilowatt roof photovoltaic system at Los Angeles AFB, Calif.; 660 kilowatt photovoltaic at Fresno Air National Guard Base, Calif.; 500 kilowatt photovoltaic at Toledo ANGB, Ohio; and a 250 kilowatt wind generator at Tin City Long Range Radar Site, Alaska.

"Identifying potential renewable energy projects that represent a positive return on investment can be a time-consuming and detail-oriented process, but we're making great headway," said Ken Gray, AFFEC's Rates and Renewables Branch chief.

"We have seven new solar projects under construction right now including one at Camp Perry Air National Guard Base in Ohio capable of producing 60 percent of that installation's electrical needs," he said. "This year we expect to begin construction on at least a dozen more renewable energy projects including two new solar arrays in Arizona each larger than the 140-acre solar array at Nellis, which made news headlines as the largest array in the country a few years ago."

Air Force officials also plan to award contracts for wind and waste-to-energy projects this year.

Federal mandates require that 25 percent of Air Force facility energy use come from renewable energy sources by 2025.

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