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Keesler ESPC construction complete

Energy managers of Keesler AFB, Mississippi.

Keesler Energy Manager Billy Stevenson and Reggie Lechner, Keesler energy management control systems operator, analyze base power consumption in 2014. Following the award of an Energy Savings Performance contract in 2019, the Mississippi base has now implemented four energy conservation measures. Thanks to the conservation upgrades, the base expects an annual savings of 113,840 million British Thermal Units, a 15.8 percent reduction in energy consumption and $3.4 million in water savings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Construction for an Energy Savings Performance Contract at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, is now complete and accepted by the installation. 

The $32 million contract, awarded in 2019 to Noresco, LLC, consisted of four energy conservation measures, including the installation’s first on-site solar power generation system.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center partnered with the Defense Logistics Agency-Energy on the contract award. The upgraded energy conservation measures are expected to result in an annual savings of 113,840 million British Thermal Units, a 15.8 percent reduction in energy consumption and $3.4 million in water savings. 

“This ESPC project is a win for the Air Force, helping provide energy assurance through on-site renewable energy,” said Dan Soto, AFCEC energy director. “Its successful completion is a result of the significant teamwork by Keesler Air Force Base, AFCEC and DLA-Energy.”

ESPCs are one of the tools leveraged by AFCEC’s Energy Directorate to incorporate resilience, optimize energy demand and modernize infrastructure while supporting Air Force missions.

Among the energy conservation measure upgrades for the installation is a solar photovoltaic canopy system, marking the installation’s first on-site electricity generation, which will improve resilience and increase energy assurance through mission assurance.

The new 1.5-megawatt solar photovoltaic canopy system provides clean and renewable energy to enhance and improve installation resiliency. Located in the base exchange parking lot, the system offers the additional benefit of covered parking for nearly 500 vehicle spaces.

The solar canopy system serves as a back feed into the overall electrical grid. 

“Although it is not a direct backup power source for specific base facilities, it reduces electrical consumption and reduces overall costs,” said Rob Baker, Keesler AFB energy manager.

As Keesler’s first on-site, covered solar power generation system it is already drawing a lot of attention as it’s visible to commuters from the main gate. 

To help patrons understand the importance of the system, a kiosk was also installed in the BX showcasing the positive impacts the solar array has on the environment and displays actual energy savings, how they equate to reduced fuel and carbon emissions and the number of trees saved from its use. 

Since Keesler is located along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the Air Force designed the array with hurricane season in mind.

“The PV array system can sustain winds up to 170 mph and conforms to the building code standards of hurricane-prone Miami-Dade, Florida,” said Baker. “As another safety measure to protect the canopies, the vertical support poles can withstand a 35-mph direct hit from a vehicle.” 

In addition to the array system, ESPC construction included chiller plant optimization, new and upgraded control systems for 38 buildings and 29,559 LED lighting upgrades to interior, exterior and streetlights. The culmination of these energy conservation measures will enhance air power readiness and resiliency at the Air Education and Training Command installation.

“The solar PV system provides a steppingstone to installation resiliency,” said Mike Ringenberg, AFCEC subject matter expert and program manager. “The lighting improvements, building control upgrades and chiller plant improvements will reduce potential interruptions to training flights and schedules.”

Installations interested in pursuing energy projects are encouraged to reach out to AFCEC through the Reach-Back Center at (888) 232-3721 or AFCEC.RBC@us.af.mil.