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Going off-grid: Shaw enhances energy resiliency

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Destinee Sweeney
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 20th Fighter Wing is scheduled to hold a microgrid ribbon cutting ceremony next February as part of ongoing projects to enhance energy resiliency.

The microgrid, made of a series of generators and designed to power nearly 70% of the base, will allow the majority of the wing to maintain power indefinitely if local power infrastructure is damaged.

“We evaluated the need for power resiliency and came up with a plan, in conjunction with Duke Energy, to ensure the installation had power in the event that Duke’s primary power failed,” said Joseph Sublette, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron engineering flight chief. “After evaluating several alternatives, we opted to install a generator farm, 15 625-kilowatt generators, that will enable our own power production for base operations on the west side of the base.”

This farm will ensure the mission continues even during power-threatening situations such as natural disasters, including those created due to the Atlantic hurricane season.

Over the last six years Shaw has invested in its electric infrastructure by burying power lines across base. This microgrid will double down on that investment, ensuring that the now protected power lines will always have power.

Alongside the 20th CES, the 20th Contracting Squadron team in charge of the project dedicated their “blood, sweat and tears” during the 2019 holiday season and were able to award the contract in just under 75 days.

This was due to the efforts of Dr. Emisha Rodriguez-Dickey, 20th CONS base operations support section chief, and Tech. Sgt. Kelli Floyd, 20th CONS infrastructure section noncommissioned officer in charge, who were both recognized by Air Combat Command with contracting functional annual awards.

“Exactly one year after signing the contract for the first microgrid, we expect all of Shaw proper and its tenant units to have energy resiliency,” said Floyd. “The most amazing part of it all is we awarded that (contract) at the end of February and two weeks later the entire country was locked down … We were really lucky with timing.”

Due to the project’s impact, Shaw was also selected as the 2020 Power Partner Award recipient for “Innovation in Resiliency” by Duke Energy.

On the east side of the base, the 20th CES is also creating redundancies for the current electrical grid to provide energy resiliency for the rest of the wing’s tenant units. Although mission essential areas already have generators in place in the event of power loss, the microgrid is another step further toward sustained energy assurance.