Electrical systems powers savings, infrastructure

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jacob Morgan
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
A military installation is similar to a house when it comes to electrical systems. There are power lines running to different circuits with breakers deciding how much power is directed where. The power coming into a home, just like a military installation, has to be provided at a steady rate to the right places. If one thing goes wrong, your washer and dryer could lose power, or the air conditioner could shut off. Without knowing the circuitry throughout a home with a utility map, a responding electrician would take longer to find the problem.

In the same sense, power costs money to generate, store and move. By replacing old systems and lights with new energy saving initiatives, a homeowner could save money and free up power usage so other sources can use it more efficiently.

Since arriving with the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, the electrical systems team has had two goals: to do what a reasonable homeowner would do; understand and correct circuitry for utility maps, and save money through cheaper more efficient power usage.

"When my team responds to a job to either fix a problem or build new electrical systems, we find all sorts of problems with the utility maps. My teams will fix the problem or build the new system and write down exactly what they saw in order for the next guy to be more successful," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Aron Day, 380th ECES electrical systems NCO in charge. "By doing this, we have also saved ourselves a lot of time, saved our customers a lot of time and been able to contribute to the mission more effectively."

The electrical systems shop contributes to the mission through two core efforts; interior electrical system troubleshooting, and work orders.

"The interior electrical systems work involves everything inside a building," said Day. "It typically includes circuitry work and is considered routine maintenance."

Customers from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing also submit work orders to relocate lights, move circuit breakers and place new wiring in the walls or in the ground.

These two core efforts of electrical systems require a significant amount of knowledge of circuitry and wiring, especially when the key infrastructure is not labeled or has never been identified, said Day. The goal on each response is to identify these key parts and map them. Knowing where things go and how power is distributed is important to understanding electrical systems.

By better mapping the infrastructure, the electric systems shop can filter the information to leadership and respond to fix the problem faster, said Day.

"With us learning from all of these responses, we can give this information to the electrical engineers," said Day, who calls Panama City, Fla., home and is deployed from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. "They take this information and use it for future planning on how to help the base be more efficient in using power."

The electrical systems shop also plays a large part in the future electrical power capability of the base; where switching from diesel powered generators to commercial power plays a significant role in saving money.

The shop has many projects underway, but the largest current projects to save money include switching the generators to commercial power initiative, solar lights and light emitting diode outdoor lights. These initiatives bear some initial cost, but allow the base to save money over time; they include LED lights in dorm rooms and 142 self-contained solar units for light poles.

The effect of these projects, not captured in dollar amounts, is creating stability across the entire electrical grid, said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Tucker, 380th ECES electrical systems craftsman.

"The LED lights are better for power consumption, emits less heat, and draw less power, so we can use that power somewhere else," said Tucker, who calls Fleming County, Ky., home and is deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif.

The electrical systems shop came to the base with goals that are on-going. Each day, new projects are being accomplished and infrastructure is being mapped.

"It's great to know we play a larger part in the mission," said Tucker. "Some days it's hard to realize the role you may contribute, a light-bulb here or a breaker there. But everything we do is contributing to the larger electrical infrastructure of this base."