by Jennifer Elmore
Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency
2/9/2012 – TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) — The Air Force is one of the nation’s top purchasers of green power, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Top 25 list of Green Power Partners released Jan. 31.
The Air Force’s use of renewable energy ranks number one in the Department of Defense, number two in the federal government, and number 15 among 1,300 Green Power Partners including large corporations and municipalities such as Dallas and Houston.
The EPA Green Power Partner program only gives credit to renewable energy produced at U.S. facilities built after 1997.
“If the Green Power Partner program gave us credit for all the ‘old’ power we purchase (produced at facilities built before 1997) and the power we produce at installations outside the continental United States, the Air Force would be number one in the federal government and number eight in the country,” said Ken Gray, the chief of the Rates and Renewables Branch at the Air Force Facility Energy Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
Since becoming a Green Power Partner in 2003, the Air Force has always appeared near the top of the federal list. More than six percent of all facility energy used by the Air Force comes from green power sources, which is more than the federally mandated energy goal of five percent by 2010 as defined under the Environmental Protection Act of 2005.
In 2011, for example, the Air Force used 265 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy, an increase of 15 million kilowatt-hours from the previous year.
“We’ve developed a strategy we’re calling the Air Force Renewable Energy Game Plan in which we plan to add 33 renewable energy projects on our installations during the next five years,” Gray said. “The plan would provide as much as 27 percent of the total Air Force electric demand in the form of renewable energy and far exceed the federal mandate of 16 percent renewable energy use by fiscal year 2016.”
The Air Force more than doubled its number of renewable energy projects in the past year. There are 131 projects in operation on 56 bases and an additional 50 are under construction. Projects include solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, geothermal in the form of ground source heat pumps, wind, daylighting and landfill gas.
The Air Force is also exploring use of waste-to-energy at more than 20 bases identified as ideal locations during opportunity assessments in 2011.