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Vandenberg town hall meeting focuses on energy, wildlife conservation

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif -- Representatives from the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron, Balfour Beatty Communities, Minol USA and over 50 on-base residents came together for a town hall meeting Nov. 7 at the base theater here.

The meeting opened with a presentation by 30 CES highlighting five common wildlife nuisances on Vandenberg and how best to handle them.

"The five most common animals that we have issues with here are not going away," said Rhys Evans, 30th CES natural resource lead. "Coyotes, mule deer, bats, rattlesnakes and sharks are extremely adaptable and we're living in their natural habitat. It's important to understand their habits to mitigate risk to yourself or your family."

Coyotes are not an immediate risk to Vandenberg's human population, but could possibly threaten the base's furrier residents: small dogs and cats.

"Please feed your pets inside your home, as coyotes are attracted to food sources," Evans said. "Food sources can be your dog food, garbage, or even a small pet. They typically won't attack humans, but will defend themselves if harassed."

The common thread concerning the treatment of all Vandenberg wildlife is respect, the natural resource lead said. "If you leave them alone, they will leave you alone."

Vandenberg officials then gave the floor to base housing and Minol USA representatives to talk to Vandenberg residents about the program Air Force Blue, Mission Green.

Under this initiative put into place by the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2008, Balfour Beatty Communities will soon begin charging base housing residents for excess energy and gas consumption.

"Beginning in January, 2013, Minol USA will begin a 13-month data collection and mock billing period," said Lisa Post, Minol USA representative. "We will be sending base residents mock bills for their electric and gas usage. Your home will be grouped with other homes with similar determining factors and we will find the average monthly usage from each grouping."

After the 13-month trial period, grouping factors will be established and the baseline set. According to Vandenberg housing officials and Minol USA, Airmen will have an opportunity to make money.

"If your home consumes less than the grouping average, you will receive a rebate check when your energy and gas credits reach fifty dollars or more," said Post.

Several Vandenberg residents raised questions like who will read the housing meters, what are the occupancy factors and what is the possibility of using alternative energy sources.

"The Air Force is looking into every opportunity to find alternative energy," Evans said.

Vandenberg residents with questions about the new utilities program can contact Balfour Beatty Communities at 734-1445. Residents who need more information about Vandenberg wildlife can contact 30th CES Conservation Office at 605-8684.