A Field of Power

  • Published
  • By Tech, Sgt, Annete Kornasiewicz
  • 180th FW Public Affairs
180th Fighter Wing took a step closer in becoming fully energy independent. The Honorable Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur from Ohio's Ninth Congressional District, and Col. Mark E. Bartman, Commander of the 180th FW, pulled the symbolic electric switch to officially open the Alternative Energy Site as dozens of guests and distinguished visitors cheered. Opening the site commemorates the completion of Phase One. It celebrates over two years of hard work and dedication because of a concert of local business leaders uniting with military and political leaders to see the project to fruition. 

"Today what we are about is to produce a prototype Guard research site like none other in America," said Kaptur. "This is one of the most satisfying moments of my congressional career." 

In January, 2006, Kaptur obtained Department of Defense Research Development Testing and Engineering funds for the 180th FW to develop a renewable energy site. The DOD's program objective is to demonstrate the usefulness of renewable energy sources to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel and reduce harmful emissions generated by burning fossil fuels for energy. Kaptur was instrumental in brining the Alternative Energy Site here, and secured the necessary $8.2 million dollars for fiscal years 2006, 2007 and 2008 to fund the development of a 730 kilowatt solar electric generation plant. The Ohio Congresswoman stated that she was honored to be a part of the foresight of community leaders who held a "glimpse of the future." 

We pay tribute today to the power of an idea," said Kaptur. "For the ingenuity of those who saw a vision of the future, and who believed a community of dedicated people could transform America starting right here at home." 

A 10 acre area of the 180th FW was identified and research and development began in June, 2006, with the construction of the renewable energy site starting in October, 2007. The site will be the largest facility to use the latest technology including thin film cadmium telluride solar panels which are more cost effective per watt of energy produced. 

Following Kaptur's address, Kevin W. Billings, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., lauded the 180th leadership and local contractors for the project's success. 

"This is a bridge to energy independence," said Billings. "You will help to change the culture of the Air Force. We have begun to rethink our energy usage in everything we do." 

Maj. Gen. Harry W. Feucht, Jr., The Assistant Adjutant General for Air, Ohio Air National Guard, was also on hand for the opening, and spoke of the importance of the pioneering event. 

"We look to continue this throughout the Ohio Air National Guard," said Feucht. "We are lucky to have you represent us." 

The 180th FW Alternative Energy Site will be constructed over a three-phase period. The
first phase, now just completed, will provide 200 kilowatts of electric production to the unit. The project's second phase, scheduled to be completed in January, 2009, will bring the sites' energy production to 504kilowatts. The project's third phase, scheduled for completion on October 1, 2009, will provide approximately 25 percent of our electrical demand at the base. 

By October 1, 2009, the Alternative Energy Site will be home to approximately 10,500 solar panels which are projected to produce almost ¼ of the kilowatt hours used by the 180th FW, reduce the unit's annual dependence on coal by nearly 600 tons, and based on the unit's consumption, result in an annual utility savings of an estimated $100,000. 

In addition to being an alternative and renewable energy source, the 180th FW Alternative Energy Site has also resulted in growth for local companies in Northwest Ohio. Through the award of construction contracts for the project, these companies have added new positions in an effort to support its development. All major components of the solar panels are manufactured in the Northwest Ohio region. 

"We are at a very interesting crossroads in the area of alternative energy," said Bartman in his closing comments and before engaging the ceremonial red switch with Kaptur. "Our future in Northwest Ohio looks pretty bright and sunny." The 180th FW would like to offer special thanks to the following: 

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur 
Advanced Distributed Generation, LLC 
Advanced Power Technology Office, USAF 
Concurrent Technologies Corporation 
First Solar, Inc.
Johnson Controls, Inc.
Laibe Electric Company
Rudolph/Libbe, Inc.
Solar Frames
Solar Kits USA, LLC

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