Wild Weasels slash carbon footprint, enable energy independence

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Grace Nichols
  • 35th Fighter Public Affairs
The Department of the Air Force observes Energy Awareness Month every October to examine the critical role energy plays in its combat capabilities and readiness. The accomplishments of the 35th Fighter Wing, also known as the “Wild Weasels,” contributed to the final iteration of the three-year observance theme, “Energy Able, Mission Capable.”
In 2018, the Defense Logistics Agency Energy awarded the 35th Fighter Wing Japan’s first energy savings performance contract (ESPC).
A partnership between an agency and an energy service company, ESPCs allow federal agencies to procure energy savings and facility improvements with no up-front capital costs or special appropriations from Congress.
Since then, the installation Energy Project Committee (EPC) at Misawa Air Base, Japan, has led the way in “green initiatives” for military installations in the Indo-Pacific region. As the installation ranked 6th highest in energy cost of any installation in the Department of Defense, interest is taken in how Misawa produces 70% of consumed power on installation without relying on the local host nation’s energy capabilities.
“The ESPC gives us greater energy independence,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jaime Gracias, ESPC contracting officer's representative. “This helps with preventing strain on our local partners by reducing our energy demand.”
These reductions have been achieved through smaller initiatives like switching to energy efficient lights across the installation to larger projects, most notably changing out installation heating systems as well as adding a solar farm and a natural gas plant.
“We're at a point in our current heating systems where we'd have to spend a lot of money to upgrade them without an ESPC,” said Kristin Steadings, installation EPC project manager. “This project gets paid back in energy savings so we don’t pay a dime upfront.”
Of the $206 million ESPCs projects, two of the 26 projects associated are green initiatives geared toward reducing emissions and providing renewable energy.
The first project is a solar field which reduces installation energy demand by 35%. Equipped with 18,000 solar panels, when complete it will provide up to six megawatts of electricity going directly to Misawa Air Base’s power grid to enable energy independence. This project also aids in lessening the burden of the host nation in instances of a disaster or emergency causing limited energy capabilities.
The second project, but first in the Air Force, the liquefied natural gas plant will reduce outside contractor costs and burn cleaner than diesel fuel while reducing nitrogen oxides by 43%, carbon dioxide by 25% and sulfur oxides by 100%, therefore reducing carbon emissions.
All ESPC construction is scheduled for completion by 2023, saving $16 million annually; the contract will be sustained for a minimum of 20 years as agreed upon by the host nation partners.
“Misawa Air Base’s forward-leaning energy-saving initiative demonstrates the U.S. commitment to achieving reduced carbon emissions with our Japanese partners,” said Andrew Lee, U.S. Consulate General Sapporo.


グレース・ニコルズ三等軍曹 第35戦闘航空団 2021年10月21日