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Vandenberg looks into green alternatives

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Waves crash against rocks near a boathouse here Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. This picture shows a southwest view of the Pacific Ocean where Pacific Gas and Electricity Company plans to test wave energy technology. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Waves crash against rocks near a boathouse here Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. This picture shows a southwest view of the Pacific Ocean where Pacific Gas and Electricity Company plans to test wave energy technology. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- In an effort to maximize reusable energy resources here, the 30th Space Wing, in collaboration with the Pacific Gas and Electricity Company, is looking into the possibility of harvesting wave energy off the coast of Vandenberg by 2013.

Wave energy involves a process of harnessing the forces of the ocean and converting the ocean's energy into electricity.

"Reusable energy is something we are very interested in at Vandenberg," said Bradley King, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron energy manager.

The benefits of using reusable energy sources at Vandenberg include limiting the depletion of natural recourses, lowering energy costs and minimizing energy waste.

If Vandenberg decides to switch to wave energy, the base will use wave energy conversion devices to capture the ocean's energy. Undersea cables will then transmit the wave energy to land, where the energy will be conditioned and fed into the base's electric grid.

In 2009, PG&E filed a preliminary permit application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to study the possibility of a 100-megawatt wave energy project at Vandenberg. The permit and licensing stage is approximately a three-year process. During this time, the 30th SW and PG&E will host public meetings, work collaboratively with stakeholders, and conduct feasibility, environmental and engineering studies.

"With the construction of PG&E's 100-megawatt project, Vandenberg would be the first purchaser of the project's energy," Mr. King said. "This amount of wave energy would equal 150 percent of the base's current annual energy consumption, which would give us the ability to back feed the electrical grid to help supply reusable energy to other communities around the Central Coast."

The idea behind Vandenberg's drive to introduce wave energy originated from a recent Department of Defense initiative. The goal of the DOD initiative is to purchase reusable energy sources amounting to 25 percent of the DOD's total power reserve by 2025.

"Using reusable energy is important for not only Vandenberg, but the world as a whole because it minimizes energy waste," Mr. King said. "The ocean holds a lot of potential and we would like to tap into it. Projects, like the one we are working with PG&E, will help stabilize the long-term energy costs incurred by Vandenberg."