By 2nd Lt. Marie Denson
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Schriever’s central utility plant, run by the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron, is in the process of replacing three of its generators. The current generators have been dutifully providing emergency power to Schriever for more than 25 years.
This is no small feat, the outcome will help reduce costs and increase power while conserving energy and resources.
In the early 1980s, during President Ronald Reagan’s administration, Schriever became the benefactors of a trade agreement with Britain. Britain traded six Mirrlees Blackstone generators and in return the U.S. traded various Caterpillar equipment. The base added generator seven in 1992 to support the growing demand.
Together these generators can provide more than 90 percent of the base’s power which runs the sensitive equipment used to accomplish Schriever’s daily mission.
After more than 25 years of operations, three of the generators are being replaced with new Caterpillar brand generators to increase efficiency and reduce resource demand.
“The Caterpillar generators have their own electric start radiators which will help gain cooling capacity,” said Richard Coder, base electrical engineer. “They will produce 35 percent more power per unit and they are a third the physical size [compared to Mirrlees Blackstone’s]. We will also gain fuel efficiency, which will be more cost efficient in the end. The new ones are projected to burn 80 gallons per hour where as the old generators burn fuel at 120 gallons per hour.”
Since the power plant provides emergency power for the base, 50 CES is working many what if scenarios in case Murphy’s Law occurs during this replacement and installation project.
“As a back-up we do have two technical power buses to help support all computer equipment, and two transformers in case one goes down,” said Master Sgt. Eric Knight, central plant superintendent. “Worst case scenario, we have a load-shed plan if we start losing generators, but that is the worst case scenario.”
Not only is this going to be better for the environment, and more cost effective for Schriever it will also provide a better environment for the people who work on the generators.
“The parts for the Caterpillar generators will be easier to obtain,” said Roy Bergsholm, plan operator. “Right now, just to order a part can take six weeks or more. To get a quote we have to go through Texas, England then Germany. Then it goes back down the line from Germany, England to Texas. The same process occurs to order parts and the parts can be very expensive. With these new generators, Caterpillar has a warehouse in Denver so the process with be faster and cheaper.”
Ordering parts isn’t the only thing that can be difficult with the current generators.
“You have to have three different size wrenches just to work on the current ones,” said Sergeant Knight. “Tools are needed for British standard, standard and metric, and sometimes we have to make our own custom tools to accommodate the parts because it can be a hard to reach certain places on the generator. It will be a lot easier working on the new Caterpillar brand generators.”
The first generator being replaced has been cut into three separate pieces using a diamond cutter. The first cut piece is scheduled to be removed from the central power plant this week.
Schriever is focusing on green initiatives through this project. In addition to using less fuel, the base expects to recycle an estimated 100 tons of scrap metal from the dismantled generators. Schriever will get credit towards it’s goal to increase recycling efforts for the base which will be reported to headquarters and later to the Pentagon.
Project leads don’t anticipate a noticeable impact to the majority of base members. The project is still in its infancy and is slated to be complete in later fall of this year.