Air Force continues success in reducing energy impact

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The mission of the Air Force is to deliver air power for the defense of America and its global interests, a mission that requires a rapid-response fighting force capable of flying and fighting in air, space and cyberspace anywhere at anytime.

Every October, the Air Force, along with the rest of the federal government, recognizes Energy Awareness Month. Our theme this year echoes our energy vision: "Making energy a consideration in all we do."

This vision serves as the foundation of our energy strategy:

-- Reduce demand by increasing our energy efficiency and reducing our energy consumption
-- Increase supply by researching, testing and certifying new technologies
-- Investigating cutting edge uses of renewable and conventional sources of energy in order to create new domestic sources of supply;
-- Change the culture to ensure energy is a consideration in all we do.

Energy, from JP-8 in our aircraft to electricity in our air operation centers, powers our combat capability, allowing us to fly, fight and win our nation's wars. The Air Force consumed almost 2.6 billion gallons of aviation fuel in fiscal 2006 at a cost of almost $5.8 billion. Our total energy bill exceeded $7 billion when we include energy to operate our bases and fuel our ground vehicles.

We need to think about how energy is essential to this mission and our priorities of winning the war on terrorism, preparing for future conflicts and humanitarian missions, taking care of Airmen and recapitalizing and modernizing our air, space and cyberspace systems.

In his state of the union address last January, President Bush said, "For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes and to terrorists who could cause huge disruptions in oil shipments, raise the price of oil and do harm to our economy."

The president challenged our nation to wean itself off its addiction to foreign oil.

To meet that challenge, we have been identifying new domestic sources of supply. In August, the B-52 Stratofortress fleet was certified to use a 50/50 blend of synthetic fuel and traditional JP-8. The C-17 Globemaster III is the next airframe we'll certify, and we're on course to certify the entire Air Force aircraft fleet by early 2011.

Much of our success is due to the innovation of Airmen at all levels of the Air Force. For example, officials at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas; Fairchild AFB, Wash.; and Minot AFB, N.D., acquire nearly 100 percent of their electrical energy requirements from renewable energy. In addition, 37 Air Force bases located in the United States procure green power.

By December 2007, the largest photovoltaic solar array in North America will be operating at Nellis AFB, Nev., providing 14 megawatts of power, enough to satisfy nearly 30 percent of the base's electricity needs, and saving the Air Force $1 million annually in energy costs.

As Air Force leadership continues to focus on energy, we remain mindful that energy use and environmental stewardship go hand in hand. We have linked our energy efforts with our continuing drive to reduce the environmental footprint of the Air Force.

Every month is Energy Awareness Month in the Air Force. In your squadrons, during mission planning, on the flightline, in the backshops and in your homes, focus on how you and your team can more effectively use energy. I encourage everyone in the Air Force to continue the great work you are doing to reduce our energy demand. We must continue to reduce our energy demand, identify and increase our domestic energy supply, and make energy a consideration in all we do.

There is more information on Energy Awareness Month on the Installations, Environment and Logistics Web site.

Mr. Anderson is the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics