Energy Action Month educates Airmen

Courtesy of Air Force News Service

WASHINGTON — October is Energy Action Month throughout the federal government, and in the Air Force, Energy Action Month is the centerpiece of the “I am Air Force Energy” campaign dedicated to educating Airmen on ways they can maximize their energy efficiency and mission effectiveness.

The Air Force launched its month long series of educational opportunities and activities with a letter to all Airmen from Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody. The leaders wrote, “Energy is a fundamental component of all Air Force operations. The smart use of energy means flying our aircraft farther, transporting more cargo and accomplishing our mission in a more efficient and effective way.”

Throughout October, the Air Force will share innovative ways in which Airmen and their families can make more energy-aware choices. These include turning off lights, limiting the time vehicles idle, shutting down unnecessary appliances and other equipment and observing energy efficient behavior on the job. Implementing these sorts of best practices can have a significant impact on reducing energy demand.

“Since fiscal year 2011, the Air Force has created a 10 percent increase in the distance we can carry a ton of cargo on a gallon of fuel, while simultaneously decreasing the related costs by more than 8 percent,” said Miranda Ballentine, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy. “This is one of many success stories driven by great suggestions from the field.”

Airmen can submit their energy ideas at the Airmen Powered by Innovation website.

Airmen have already greatly improved the Air Force’s energy efficiency during the last several years. In 2013, the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, implemented scheduling and airspace initiatives which resulted in $30 million saved.

Their innovations include giving scheduling priority to their closest air refueling tracks and creating a racetrack re-attack route at their drop zone, which trimmed 18 minutes of flying time per sortie. Enterprise-wide, the Air Force nearly doubled the use of alternative fuel sources in ground vehicles in 2013, as compared to 2008, and it increased the percentage of energy capacity from renewable sources to 8 percent.

The Department of Energy recognized teams of Airmen from installations throughout the Air Force with eight of the Federal Energy Management Program awards. Of the 25 FEMP awards presented in 2014, 10 different government agencies were recognized, but none had more awardees than the Air Force. The eight Air Force winners included:

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s Richard Hiatt and Griffith Turpin, who worked with the city of Anchorage, Alaska and Doyon Utilities to build a landfill gas waste-to-energy plant on the installation. For years, the city had collected and burned landfill gas, primarily methane, next to the base, and now it is used to generate more than 26 percent of the base’s yearly electric need. The project is expected to save $73.6 million during its 46-year lifecycle.

The office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy’s energy analysis task force in D.C., made up of Cols. Alan Sims, Col. Michael Smith, Lt. Col. Chip Bulger, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Havlicek and Lt. Col. Mark Lyons leveraged the expertise of 18 Air Force Reserve members to identify and embed six industry best practices across the service. One example was a partnership with Air Mobility Command to enhance cargo load processes that eliminated 1,044 sorties and saved $12.6 million in fuel.

The Air Force Space Command energy program team of Jim Jacobsen, Monie McVay, Randall Pieper, Tim Pugh and Fox Theriault at Peterson AFB, Colorado, focused on two top energy users — high-efficiency exterior lighting and vehicle fleet fuel.

AFSPC connected Clear Air Force Station, Alaska, to the electric grid, saving $1.5 million annually; made upgrades to a power plant at Thule Air Base, Greenland saving 636,265 gallons of jet fuel and $2.6 million annually; and they saved $1 million annually by installing 6,600 LED lights, street and parking lot fixtures across the command. Finally, AFSPC was the first command to implement biodiesel use throughout its non-tactical fleet.

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