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Power production turns the lights up

  • Published
  • By Airman Daniel Brosam
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
In case of emergencies, the base must have electricity in critical facilities to continue its ongoing mission.

Power does not pop out of thin air, which means Malmstrom must have a team readily available to provide the energy it needs. That is where the 341st Civil Engineer Squadron power production shop comes to save the day.

The shop consists of 15 Airmen, three of which are currently deployed, and one civilian.

Power production supplies generators with enough power to produce 5.8 megawatt-hours, enough to power the entire base. Some of these generators can last up to 174 hours when completely fueled.

Power production provides the base with these generators which start up once the base loses electricity. The generators do this through panels that are built into the generator, sending a signal once it realizes there is no commercial power. It flips a switch to begin stabilizing its engine to produce energy that is transferable through the panels and out to the facilities.

The only problem, the equipment cannot maintain itself. Maintenance must be completed, and that quality control is performed by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Vance, 341st CES power production NCO in charge.

"Here at Malmstrom we are responsible for providing backup power to critical facilities," said Vance. Anything from the dining facility to communications buildings and even out in the weapons storage area. When everything else goes wrong and fails, that's when we have to take over and make sure stuff is good to go and the mission can continue."

Some buildings on base have built in generators already in place that are ready to turn on without being operated. There are some facilities that do not have generators in place, but they are assigned a mobile generator that can be wheeled out if they need to be powered.

Vance said everything goes smoothly 363 days out of the year, but for the two days that they don't, it's time for them to snap on the gloves and goggles and get to work.
Senior Airman Ryan Girard, 341st CES power production journeyman, said his job is definitely important to the mission.

"If a launch facility's power goes out, nothing can get done," said Girard. "That generator needs to work. We may not be a job that's constantly important, but it's important for us to maintain our equipment so that when it's needed, it does work."

Vance tries to keep the shop light and relaxed, but that doesn't stop them from getting the job done.

Senior Airman Michael Oakes, 341st CES power production journeyman, said their shop is important and he loves what he does.

"I get to work with my hands and I get to get dirty," said Oakes. "Not only am I doing mechanical work with engines and loud, smoky, dirty machines, but I also get to play with electrical equipment."

At the end of the day, power production must always guarantee Malmstrom's mission can always go on. Airmen and their jobs make an impact on the success of the Air Force, no matter how big or small the shop is.