AF energy initiatives increase mission readiness

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Torri Ingalsbe
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location – P
The Air Force’s top leaders for energy programs highlighted strides the Air Force has taken in energy conservation, and discussed innovative ideas that will lead to even more cost and energy savings, during the Air Force Association’s monthly breakfast Oct. 8, in Arlington, Virginia.

“Energy plays a big part in everything we do,” said Roberto Guerrero, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy. “For us to succeed in our bottom-line mission, to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace, we have to look at how we expend energy and turn the conservation of that energy into an advantage to roll back into capability.”

Energy takes up 9 percent of the overall Air Force budget, he explained, and aviation fuel is the largest piece of energy consumption – totaling about $8 billion. The Air Force has implemented systems designed to offset some of that cost while finding energy from other sources.

“As we speak right now, up at Cape Cod Air Force Station, we’ve got a number of giant wind turbines cranking and powering about 50 percent of the operations at that location, including one of the largest, ground-based missile warning radars in the United States,” said Miranda Ballentine, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy. “The radar requires significant amounts of energy – in fact, $1.6 million a year worth of electricity.”

By utilizing wind energy, Cape Cod diversifies its energy dependence and saves the Air Force almost $600,000 a year.

“That’s $600,000 a year that we can plow right back into readiness, right back into flight times, right back into training,” Ballentine said. “When we build diversification into the system, it really improves the resiliency of that system and reduces the demand for dirtier fuel sources.”

Several other bases have implemented programs and processes to conserve energy and reduce the Air Force footprint.

“The technology that’s developed over the years is constantly allowing us to look at the way we do business…in order to increase our range, reduce our energy footprint and increase our capability,” Guerrero said. “All Air Force aircraft now have at least two different types of alternate fuels they can run on.”

Other technologies include: electric cars, airframe modifications to increase efficiency, supplementing equipment with lighter options, and adjusting flight routes to save fuel. The savings realized by the combined initiatives totals more than $100 million.

“We’re trying to increase the energy awareness culture and have folks, on their own, give us more bottom-up type of ideas that’ll address our energy needs,” Guerrero said. “What we want is to be able to turn those energy savings into more modernized structures, better trained Airmen, enhanced capabilities of our aircraft, and strategic options for us. We can fly farther and do more than we have in the past. The bottom line – energy savings enhance mission readiness.”