by Randy Pieper
21st Civil Engineer Squadron
10/21/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- It's
not just the leaves that are changing at Cape Cod Air Force Station.
The Air Force station is also changing the way it gets electricity as
two new giant wind turbines are being installed at the 6th Space Warning
The new wind turbines can produce up to 3.2 megawatts of power combined.
When the wind is blowing, as it often does near the coastal New England
site, the turbines will produce more electricity than the base
consumes. Through a net metering agreement with the local electric
company, the 6th SWS will make money selling wind energy. With a little
help from Mother Nature, the annual savings is estimated to be more than
$600,000 a year, recouping more than 50 percent of Cape Cod AFS's
annual electric bill.
The installation of the wind turbines will put Cape Cod AFS in line with
the Air Force's goal of using 25 percent renewable energy by 2025, said
Steve Mellin, 6th SWS support officer.
"Where we're stationed here on the Massachusetts seashore, there is
extremely high potential to generate wind energy. We're in one of the
better spots on the east coast to take advantage of the wind energy," he
Two other organizations on Joint Base Cape Cod, which hosts the 6th SWS,
use wind energy. The new turbines, numbers four and five on JBCC, will
be used to power the Pave PAWs radar system operated at the 6th SWS,
Mellin said. "This is a great opportunity to demonstrate how renewable
energy can be used in-line with mission operations."
The project was funded by the Department of Defense's Energy
Conservation Investment Program and is expected to pay for itself within
12 years, according to the Air Force Civil Engineer Center. In addition
to saving money, the turbines will also reduce air pollution. Each
turbine will reduce green house gas emissions by more than 1,000 metric
tons of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide annually
according to AFCEC.
"Watching the installation of these huge structures has been an
interesting experience," said Mellin. The tower arrived in three
separate pieces, he said, ranging from 72- to 97-feet long. Each blade
is 120-feet long and comes in on a specially designed trailer.
"When the base of the each turbine was poured, a convoy of concrete
trucks rolled in to deliver 1,100 tons of concrete," said Mellin. "The
crane used to assemble the turbines arrived on 21 flatbed trucks and had
to be assembled onsite."
The project is expected to be complete by January 2014.