By 1st Lt. Keturah Spence
6th Space Warning Squadron
CAPE COD AIR FORCE STATION, Mass. — When was the last time you took a detailed look at your electricity bill? Most of us have seen steady increases in the cost of utilities and electricity is no exception. For the 6th Space Warning Squadron, located at Cape Cod Air Force Station, Mass., electricity consumption is a major cost for the unit as it carries out its missile warning and space surveillance missions.
How does $5,100 sound for an electric bill? That’s a lot more than any of us would want to pay a month for our homes. However, that was the average cost per day for Cape Cod AFS’s electricity in 2010; the monthly bill was more than $153,000. Looking for ways to save energy and the associated costs to purchase that energy, staff at Cape Cod AFS along with 21st Civil Engineer Squadron and Headquarters Air Force Space Command started working toward reducing energy consumption.
One of the first steps was partnering with the Cape Light Compact. The CLC, a public-private partnership that manages energy conservation initiatives on Cape Cod, was able to arrange for energy audits of the facilities at Cape Cod AFS. At the request of 6th SWS, auditors recommended lighting retrofits throughout the installation and variable frequency drives on pumps and motors for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. The CLC then developed projects to implement those recommendations totaling almost $300,000 in work, resulting in savings of more than $150,000 per year at no cost to the Air Force.
The 6th SWS also took a look at how it procures electricity. Instead of just buying electricity provided by the local utility company, it was able to take advantage of a regional electricity supply contract managed by the Defense Logistics Agency. Joining with other DLA customers in the Northeast, 6th SWS was able to enter into two-year electricity supply contracts at lower than current market rates, resulting in a savings of $40,000 annually.
Another Cape Cod AFS initiative was the replacement of two, 450-ton chillers that provide chilled water for the radar and other subsystems. The two legacy chillers were installed when the site was originally constructed and consumed a significant amount of electricity. The new chillers not only save energy, but use significantly less refrigerant making them more environmentally friendly. The new chillers also incorporate new variable frequency drives, digital controls, and a plate and frame heat exchanger to further reduce energy consumption. When completed, these upgrades are estimated to save almost $100,000 per year in electricity costs.
It is no surprise that Cape Cod AFS is leading energy efficiency initiatives; Cape Cod AFS helped charter the Massachusetts Military Reservation Energy Committee. This group brings together all the organizations on the MMR and reviews energy savings opportunities. The committee consists of members from the Air Force, Army National Guard, Air National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, Veterans Administration, and the Department of Agriculture. The committee has been able to share energy savings ideas from the different organizations and provide the MMR commanders recommendations on energy savings as well as renewable energy projects.
In what could be the most visible change to Cape Cod AFS’s energy programs, AFSPC plans to install two 1.6 megawatt wind turbines to offset nearly 50 percent of Cape Cod AFS energy consumption. These two turbines will each stand almost 400 feet tall and provide clean, renewable power for the installation. The project is planned for FY12 contingent upon funds availability, and will be managed by the 6th SWS site support officer, Steve Mellin.
If the past is any indication, you can expect more energy innovation from Team Six in the months and years to come.