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Andersen technicians combat power shortage, conserve energy

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- In order to beat the island's heat, Guam residents rely on electric fans, refrigerators and air conditioners on a daily basis. All of these appliances require energy to ensure everyone's well-being.

Members of Team Andersen were recently reminded how crucial electricity is on the island when Guam Power Authority lost two of its four base load production units due to an explosion toward the end of August. The damaged units were responsible for producing power for the island at all times.

Currently, GPA is using generators built to handle times when energy consumption is at its peak to cover the island's needs; however, these generators have been running nearly fulltime since the explosion, said Maj. James Gingras, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Operations Flight commander. Unfortunately, a few times in the last month, technical problems caused several of the generators to trip off line, causing automatic load shedding. That meant certain circuits were turned off in order to preserve the entire electric grid. Plus, in order to perform normal and emergency repairs to those systems, GPA technicians had to perform manual load shedding, which meant GPA manually switched off electric circuits to avoid overloading the remaining generators on the grid.

Following the automatic load shedding, the 36th CES has been using its own stand-by generators to reduce power consumption on base. Normally, all of the facilities on Andersen AFB are connected to the commercial power grid, but some were disconnected when the issues arose to relieve some of the stress on the grid. Although the housing circuits were affected by the automatic load shedding, they have not been affected during the manual load shedding. Officials with the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, which is the publically elected body in charge of GPA, have said that when manual load shedding is required, the whole island is susceptible to being asked to go without power for an hour or more each time.  Fortunately, since the base is already reducing demand on the system with facility generators, Andersen AFB has not been affected.

Meanwhile, crews from the 36th CES have been working around the clock to fix any problems and ensure power is kept running on base. In addition to activating facility generators, the 36th CES has also shut down air conditioning to large industrial facilities or in facilities that are unoccupied when not in use at night. 

"We are doing everything we can possibly do to keep the mission going, and have also done our part to free up extra power that can be used on the island," said Master Sgt. Matt Castillo, 36th CES Operations Flight superintendent. "GPA now has more capacity to be used off base."

To alleviate the ongoing power issue, everyone on base can do their part to conserve as much energy as possible, Castillo said.

Coincidentally, October marks Energy Action Month, reminding everyone that individual efforts can make a positive impact, especially during the recent power incident that affected Guam's power grid.

"The highest energy demand times are between 6-10 p.m.," Castillo said. "During this time, island residents can really help out and do their part by avoiding or minimizing the use of any electrical component that produces heat, such as electric stoves, clothes dryers, coffee pots, toasters and water heaters. These small adjustments can benefit the island." 

Another easy fix is to turn the thermostat up a few degrees.  If you set the temperature in the mid-70s, customers will save energy, money, plus remain comfortable. Base officials have seen power use reduction in base housing; however, more help is needed to alleviate the ongoing shortfall.

"Everyone can do their part," Gingras said. "The entire island needs to be aware of every watt they are consuming. There are things that people can do to adjust their routine that has zero impact on them, but have a huge impact on the island overall."

For more information, call the CES customer service number at 366-2916 or check MyMC2 for updates.

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