Energy Conservation Pays Dividends
By Master Sgt. Pelham Myers Jr., 169th Fighter Wing
/ Published September 27, 2012
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- Chances are very good that if you are reading this article, you are probably utilizing some type of electrical energy. Whether at home or at work, we all use energy and consume energy dollars.
The Air Force alone spends nearly $9 billion annually in energy costs. Assuming that figure increases annually, it is urgent that our demand for energy be reduced.
Lt. Col. Michael Dotson, 169th Base Civil Engineer, said, "There is not much we can do to increase energy supplies, but we can certainly reduce our demand and consumption by changing our culture.
"Air Force energy goals include the strategic triad of Reduce Demand, Increase Supply and Change the Culture," he said. "We must realize that every Airman is a 'sensor' in security and force protection terms, however with energy, we must make it a consideration in all that we do."
Not only will our change of attitude towards energy help achieve Air Force energy goals, it can also provide a payoff for the base. Senior Master Sgt. Randy Hudson, Energy Manager for the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron, said, "We have received more than $36,000.00 in electrical rebates for qualifying incentive projects this year; and a few years ago, the base received over $80,000.00 in O&M funds because of the amount of decrease in energy cost over the previous year. It is important to know that this money goes back into the base 'pot of money' to be used for whatever purposes they deem necessary."
Some of these necessary purposes prove valuable in helping to maintain the personnel responsible for providing maintenance of facilities on base. Dotson said, "Our energy bills and the wages for our facilities operations and maintenance personnel come from the same budget. The utilities are "must pay" bills whereas hired manpower is a business decision. So everyone personally influences the level of service and attention that your workplace receives."
Hudson feels that the base populous is doing a pretty good job of energy conservation, but senses some complacency. "We cannot afford to let our guard down," he said. "We must make this an everyday effort."
One of the many efforts being made at base level includes the addition of an Automatic Logic System for digital controls, which is designed to control electricity and natural gas for HVAC. This system allows temperatures to be adjusted remotely via the computer.
Hudson said that these 'smart meters' were installed in several of the larger facilities to gain an insight on electrical and gas usage. "This system is designed to give us the ability to manage usage by changing how we consume energy at certain times of the day," said Hudson. "The rate charged by SCE&G is much higher when we operate at peak usage, and once you hit that peak, the charge for electricity obviously goes up. The plan is to avoid energy spikes, so that we will be charged at the lower rate."
Other projects include upgrading the taxiway lighting system to LED, which has accounted for at least a 50 percent savings in electrical consumption over the use of the incandescent bulbs used in the past, and the installation of motion sensors in facilities that automatically turn the lights on and off, based on occupancy.
The importance of McEntire conserving energy is not only the right thing to do; it's also mandated by an executive order, stating that all Federal buildings shall, for the purposes of efficient use of energy and reduction in the cost of electricity used in such buildings, be metered to measured hourly energy consumption.
It is about "making clean energy choices that can both rebuild our economy and make it more sustainable" for generations to come. (Barack Obama -- Presidential Proclamation Re: National Energy Awareness Month, 2 Oct 2009).