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USAFE initiative will increase energy efficiency

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
With Energy Action Month underway, the 48th Fighter Wing is leading the way in a U.S. Air Forces in Europe-wide initiative to save energy by vastly reducing the amount of power transformers the base utilizes.

The 120-volt Transformer Cut-Off Initiative, which the 48th FW created and is currently implementing, can save the wing $750,000 per year without impacting the mission, according to Sean Cockrell, 48th FW base energy manager.

The initiative involves vastly reducing the amount of 120-volt transformers being utilized at Royal Air Forces Lakenheath and Feltwell. These transformers are found in almost every building at the bases and provide U.S.-specification 120-volt power capabilities. The issue is that the building transformers are always on, and use power even when they are not in use.

"This (initiative) wasn't possible a few years ago, because technology didn't allow it," Cockrell said. "It just so happens that everything is dual voltage now."

The Transformer Cut-Off Initiative implementation is a three-phase plan. The first phase includes swapping out U.S. power cords for United Kingdom power cords on dual-voltage devices. The second phase involves creating a purchase list to replace items that are not dual voltage. The third phase is turning off the building transformers.

According to Cockrell, there will be some mission-essential equipment requiring 120-volt power that cannot be changed out and will continue to require transformers. In these situations, the power will be supplied by a small transformer, which can be turned off and on instead of a building transformer in order to reduce energy usage.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley spoke at the 2012 National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas in August of the importance of reducing energy usage.

"Every dollar we don't spend on energy would allow us to invest that dollar into enhancing a high quality and ready force," Donley said.

Cockrell echoed Donley's sentiment, emphasizing that "by reducing our electric bill, we can reduce our operating cost, and that money can directly go to the mission."

According to Donley, projects like the Transformer Cut-Off Initiative do more than just save money.

"Together we are building resiliency into the full range of our mission activities and enhancing energy security by assuring supplies and reducing dependence on expensive or vulnerable sources of energy," the secretary said. "By improving the way DOD uses energy, we can create a more agile, lethal, adaptable and effective military force."