Air Force accepting public comments on environmental assessment

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The Air Force will accept public comments May 25-June 26 on a draft Environmental Assessment completed on a proposal to build and operate a 3 megawatt combined heat and power system, or CHP System, on Hill Air Force Base.

If constructed, the CHP System would consist of a natural gas turbine generator, a heat recovery steam generator, a water treatment system, a duct burner, a diesel black start generator, and a control room building and possibly equipment enclosures. The system would be located on approximately an acre of land on the east side of the base in the industrial area.

“Our energy plan is to reduce demand and increase our supply of resilient, cost-effective, cleaner power,” said Harry Briesmaster III, director of Hill’s 75th Civil Engineer Group. “If constructed, this system will allow us to reduce some of our dependence on the commercial power grid and provide a second source of both electricity and steam to our mission-critical activities”

The CHP System is proposed to be completed under a performance contract that allows a partnership with the private sector to develop and maintain energy projects without upfront costs to the taxpayers. The government then uses the cost-savings garnered by the improvements to pay the company back, resulting in modernized infrastructure and increased energy efficiency at no net cost to taxpayers.

Similar energy savings contracts brought the Landfill Gas to Energy Project to Hill AFB in 2005 and a photovoltaic array or solar panel farm, in 2009. The landfill gas facility generates enough energy to power the equivalent of 261 homes for a year and the solar panel array generates enough energy to power the equivalent of 25 homes for a year.

The Air Force is largely dependent on the commercial energy infrastructure for its electricity and fuel and has set up a framework to make best use of its energy resources, Briesmaster said.

“We are always looking for ways to reduce demand for energy and we want to ensure we can continue to operate if our energy supplies are ever interrupted,” he said.

Before continuing ahead with the CHP System, the Air Force is required to complete an environmental assessment to collect data, conduct research and analyze potential environmental and socioeconomic consequences associated with the proposed development project. A draft of the EA is complete and available for public review by contacting Sam Johnson at (801) 775-3653 or samuel.johnson.5@us.af.mil. Comments will be accepted through midnight June 26.

The Air Force has determined that the proposed construction would not have significant impacts on the human environment or any of the environmental resources described in the document.

“We welcome and encourage public review and comment on the draft EA,” Briesmaster said. “The Air Force will not make a final decision about the project at Hill until after considering input from the public.”