Friday, February 19, 2010
Navy works to become conservation role model

Energy conservation and electric bill savings are not just goals for residences and private business. Naval Air Station Key West has launched an effort to reduce its consumption of electricity, beginning with Boca Chica Field.

The effort is part of a larger, national program to reduce energy consumption at all U.S. military installations. But NAS Key West already has a running start with about $9 million in solar panels converting Florida sunshine into kilowatts.

Navy officials plan to establish a baseline for their analysis of power consumption -- and glean greater detail on where and how power is being consumed -- by metering individual buildings. One meter now measures power consumption for all Navy property at Boca Chica.

Meanwhile, Navy officials are taking measures already shown to reduce energy consumption. They are removing underused appliances at the airfield in accordance with Navy guidelines. For instance, those guidelines call for one full-sized or two half-sized refrigerators for every 50 people in a building.

Base commander Capt. Stephen Holmes was the first to surrender his office refrigerator.

In addition, NAS Key West plans to surplus several of its older vehicles, replacing them with newer bio-diesel, hybrid or electric vehicles.

The Navy intends to apply lessons learned in its energy analysis at Boca Chica Field to facilities elsewhere on base. Officials also are discussing the feasibility of additional alternative energy sources, such as wind turbines or even tidal generation at Fleming Key Channel.

"We found that this is worthwhile," said Lt. Cmdr. Ana Franco, a public works director at NAS Key West. "The bottom line is that we are under a lot of pressure to reduce consumption, and there's only so much you can do by using [energy-saving] light bulbs or installing motion sensors."

It is not often we see federal government as a role model for frugality, and the Navy's efforts warrant our applause. We urge all governments and agencies in Monroe County to follow suit, implementing conservation measures at all public facilities and seeking alternative energy sources. After all, the efforts of individuals, families and small businesses to be "greener" are largely undermined when one of the biggest energy consumers -- government -- isn't working to be part of the solution.

In addition to the obvious measures -- programmable thermostats, timers and motion sensors on lighting, energy efficient appliances and electronics -- local governments might consider competition between departments, agencies or municipalities to see who can achieve the greatest reduction in energy usage.

Meanwhile, "Go Navy!"

-- The Citizen

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