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Air Force improving its energy security

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, with 86 percent of its energy costs dedicated to aviation fuel, according to Kathleen Ferguson, the principal deputy assistant secretary performing duties as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics. Ferguson, who testified on 2 April before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on readiness and management support, further noted the Air Force is looking at the full spectrum of opportunities to improve its energy security posture by implementing initiatives that make good business sense, such as working to re-engine the KC-135 Stratotanker.

“By reducing our aviation fuel consumption more than 23 percent since fiscal year 2006, the Air Force avoided almost $2.5 billion in aviation fuel costs in fiscal year 2013,” Ferguson said. “Moving forward, the Air Force is looking towards an efficiency goal to improve our aviation productivity by 10 percent by fiscal year 2020.”

Last year, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter directed the department's senior leaders to develop a shared narrative to guide the full range of defense energy activities, said Sharon Burke, the assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs. This instruction included operational and facilities energy and the energy-related elements of mission assurance.

“The Department of Defense will enhance military capability, improve energy security, and mitigate costs in its use and management of energy,” Burke said.

“It will improve the energy performance of weapons, installations and military forces, by diversifying and expanding energy supplies and sources,” Burke said. This includes using renewable energy and alternative fuels, analyzing the requirements and risks related to energy use, and promoting innovation for equipment and education and training for personnel.

“The policy,” she said, “affirms the value the Department of Defense places on energy as a mission-essential resource that can also shape the mission.”

In line with DOD policies, Ferguson told committee members the Air Force is looking toward innovative energy products and processes.

“The Air Force is looking to improve its energy security and diversify its energy supply through the increased use of renewable energy,” she said. “Currently, the Air Force has 256 renewable energy projects in operation across a wide variety of renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, geothermal, and waste-to-energy projects, increasing energy production by over 53 percent from 2012 to 2013.”

In addition to energy saving programs, the Air Force is focusing on installation reform and force management.

The Air Force views energy as a critical component to enable its global missions. In accomplishing that mission, the Air Force is striving to become more energy efficient.

“We continue to carefully scrutinize every dollar we spend,” Ferguson said. “Our commitment to continued efficiencies, a properly sized force structure, and right-sized installations will enable us to ensure maximum returns on the nation’s investment in her Airmen, who provide our trademark, highly valued airpower capabilities for the joint team.”

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