Electrical shop conserves base energy

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Multiple job taskers fill a white erase board hanging on a wall in an office at the electrical shop. More than 15 white magnets with black letters describe the job and its current status as the Airmen prepare for the day ahead of them.

Every morning starts with a meeting. A meeting designating who will work where and who will do what. The Airmen grab their tools and gear and depart the office ready to restore, maintain and upgrade electricity systems around the base. After all, having electricity is critical to mission success.

As one of their larger projects, the 341st Civil Engineer Squadron electrical shop will be replacing more than 12,000 fluorescent light fixtures with LED lamps at nine facilities on base.

This will prevent the electrical shop from having to return to locations as often, save the base man hours and money in electricity and material cost, reduce energy use, and also help the Air Force with one of its priorities of balancing today’s readiness with tomorrow’s modernization.

Ken Sanders, 341st CES electrical shop foreman, said the change comes from the Air Force Civil Engineer Center conducting an energy study at Malmstrom and deciding it was time for an advanced upgrade.

“It is a habit of the Air Force as a whole to reduce energy costs for bases,” Sanders said. “AFCEC did the study and gave us the money to purchase the lamps to replace at the facilities across the wing.”

Sanders said LED lights require half the wattage of currently used lights and also have a lamp life of 50,000 hours, nearly five times the life of fluorescent lights.

Senior Airman Dillon Halbach, 341st CES electrical systems journeyman, said the best part about his job is the customer service and having the knowledge to be able to fully complete a work order.

“People are often very appreciative with our response time and how well we handle any situation,” Halbach said. “There’s also no greater feeling than doing a job, looking at it and thinking ‘I did that.’

“I feel (working with electrical systems) is very important to the mission here or anywhere,” he continued. “When the lights or power go out, we are out there ready to respond and ensure we gets things back up and running.”

The team has already completed three of the nine buildings and according to Sanders, the project should be complete within a year.

“These Airmen are the wrench turners and I direct them and try to solve problems,” Sanders said. “We are very confident in our people, they work hard and we trust them to get the job done.”