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Holloman homes shifting to solar power

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Colin Cates
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Team Holloman recently joined a part of an initiative to increase energy efficiency and use of renewable resources with the installation of solar panels throughout the base's privatized housing communities.

Solar City is contracted to complete the 18-month project, which is expected to be finished by late 2014.The project will decrease the amount of normal energy costs for all of the 1,100 homes using a blended bill type.

"The installation of solar panels at Holloman AFB housing will be a benefit to all Soaring Heights Communities residents and their families," John Karelis, utilities director, Soaring Heights Communities. "Soaring Heights Communities purchases power from Otero Electric at standard residential pricing. The standard Otero residential rate will be blended with the lower Soaring Heights Communities solar rate thus providing Soaring Heights Communities with a lower overall cost per kilowatt hour consumed."

Homes to receive solar panels will be selected based on the amount of sun they receive, condition of the roof and location of surrounding trees.

"Not every home is getting solar panels but every resident will benefit from the solar panel project," explained Switzer. "Power is already working and will continue in phases until the completion of the project."

According to the United States Department of Energy, solar energy is a completely renewable resource. This means that even when we cannot make use of the sun's power because of nighttime or cloudy days, we can always rely on the sun showing up the very next day as a constant and consistent power source.

The Department of Defense has signed Renewable Energy Partnership Plan, which outlines the departments' roles and responsibilities under this agreement, and how they will work together to carry out the initiative. A goal of the partnership is to harness solar, wind, geothermal and biomass renewable energy resources on or near DoD installations across the country,

"This project to install these solar panels is part of the DoD renewable energy plan, which will help every member of Team Holloman," said Karelis

"This will change how people use and consume power," said Karelis. "Benefits will come from pre-cooling their homes and running fans for a few hours at night. We will teach the residents the best ways to get the most out of the change.

The initial costs to upgrading the energy source for the base are expected to be minuscule in comparison to the long-term savings for our budget-constrained Air Force.

"We know what the solar is going to cost, it doesn't fluctuate," said Jim Switzer, project director at Soaring Heights Communities. "Traditional utilities costs change constantly, but this upgrade will bring some balance to budgeting for electricity."

Among other Air Compact Command installations to adapt the use of renewable resourses Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz, will also be placing the new power system in a number of their homes as well.

"This can potentially reduce our cost per kilowatt hour of energy in almost half," said Switzer. The Air Force worked with our company as a close partnership to meet Department of Defense goals for sustainability."

"The Air Force is taking cuts in their budgets--but finding way like solar energy to help optimize natural resources is something we can control to make up for some of the money and improve our Air Force."