Science and Technology News

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Power professionals keep the mission running

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
673d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/13/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Commanders and senior enlisted leaders stared at their computers, tracking various operations throughout Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. A windstorm howled and threatened to knock down trees outside.

Lightning cracked in the sky and lights failed as the power went out across the installation.

In the moments following, as people began grabbing radios and attempting calls on their cell phones, the 673d Civil Engineer Squadron went to work. Shortly thereafter, the lights came back on; the power was up and running for approximately 48 hours on a generator while the damage caused by the storm could be mitigated.

A situation like this happened in September 2012, resulting in the loss of power to 35 facilities across the installation.

"Even during prolonged outages, we can keep facilities up for an extended period of time, ensuring that those units can complete their part of the mission," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Venable 773d CES power production technician..

It's part of the mission of the 673d CES power production shop to keep things running when nature or other factors cause power outages.

"Power production is critical to the mission because much of the mission is dependent on electronics," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Perry, 773d CES power production technician. "If there is no electrical energy, there will be very few, if any, working electronics. With limited technology, the mission will most likely fail."

The shop maintains and operates 85 emergency power generators that can be used during contingency operations.

"Ultimately, power production backs up most of the technological requirements the warfighters will need to survive, thrive and overcome adversaries," Perry said.

Take away everything that runs on batteries for one day - alarm clock, coffee maker or phone; most people wouldn't even be able to make it to work, Perry said.

Power production capabilities ensure JBER is prepared for whatever contingencies that may arise.

"We never know when these disasters will happen, that is why we have to be on our toes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, qualified and ready to react in a moment's notice," Perry said.

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