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380AEW Article

Saving energy one light bulb at a time

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Colton Elliott
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing
Energy availability impacts all Air Force missions, from installation infrastructure to aviation operations, at both enduring and non-enduring locations. In order to maintain the Air Force’s critical airpower contributions to national security, significant amounts of energy are required.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson’s energy goals include a reduction in the Air Force’s overall consumption of energy, decrease reliance on petroleum and significantly increase the use of alternative energy.

The 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron electrical section has begun changing the energy conservation culture on Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates by converting old lighting fixtures and relying more on solar paneled street lights to reduce energy consumption.

“We’ve begun replacing every broken incandescent light bulb around the base with cheaper and more energy efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs) bulbs,” said Master Sgt. John Calton, 380th ECES, electrical section chief manager. “It only makes sense, why would we not want to save money and make it easier for the next rotations?”

According to Miranda Ballentine, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Installations, Environment and Energy, developing a robust, resilient, and ready energy posture, the Air Force will enable its warfighters; expand its operational effectiveness in air, space, and cyberspace; and provide mission assurance through energy assurance.

“It is important we have a comprehensive approach to our energy projects to ensure we have the technologies, processes, and resources in place so we can continue our mission in the event of an outage,” said Ballentine.

The 380th ECES electrical section has replaced more than 2,000 incandescent light bulbs with LEDs on around base including the flightline in efforts to reduce the energy footprint at ADAB.

“Replacing one lightbulb may not seem to make a big difference however, once you begin adding up all the lights we’ve replaced as a team, the impact becomes significant,” said Senior Airman Robert Haehnel, 380th ECES electrician.

The Air Force Energy Flight Plan identifies a long-term vision for the Air Force to Enhance Mission Assurance through Energy Assurance. The plan codifies the importance of energy to the Air Force mission and targets a holistic approach to energy projects providing resilient, cost-effective, cleaner energy solutions and improving combat capabilities.

“This plan, along with our recent policies, codifies the importance energy resiliency has to the Air Force mission and identifies how we are going to move forward,” said Ballentine.

The light-emitting diode (LED) is one of today's most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies. Quality LED light bulbs last longer, are more durable, and offer comparable or better light quality than other types of lighting.

According to Lt Col. Marcus Jackson, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, comptroller, electricity consumption is anticipated to decrease by 20% on ADAB over the next few years saving thousands of dollars annually.

In addition to improving energy consumption on base, the new LED lights have also enhanced flightline safety.

"Night operations present a unique set of challenges on the airfield,” said Capt. Elizabeth Welch, 380th AEW flight safety officer. “Due to the newly installed lights, we have increased visibility on the ramp, our operators are able to better see what they are doing, and they can avoid potential hazards."

By making the best use of its energy resources, the Air Force achieves an edge toward ensuring operational supremacy and moves towards its strategic vision to enhance mission assurance through energy assurance.

“It’s more than just changing out light bulbs; we are directly impacting the mission downrange," said Calton. “We may not see the results for a few years, but I’m proud to know my team has begun to make a huge impact on this base.”

(Information from AF introduces new Energy Flight Plan was used in this story)