An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsArticle Display

Power production keeps Vandenberg lit up 24/ 7

Staff Sgt. Cahramon Pulatov checks the oil level on a generator during a pre-operational maintanence inspection at Vandenberg AFB May 7.  The power production journeyman with the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron maintains the machines like this one that generate auxiliary power and helps to ensure lighting for the Vandenberg flight line during a commercial power outage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. DeNoris Mickle)

Staff Sgt. Cahramon Pulatov checks the oil level on a generator during a pre-operational maintanence inspection at Vandenberg AFB May 7. The power production journeyman with the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron maintains the machines like this one that generate auxiliary power and helps to ensure lighting for the Vandenberg flight line during a commercial power outage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. DeNoris Mickle)

Staff Sgt. Cahramon Pulatov inspects a generator during a pre-operational maintanence inspection at Vandenberg AFB May 7.  The power production journeyman with the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron maintains the machines like this one that generates auxiliary power and helps to ensure lighting for the Vandenberg flight line during a commercial power outage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. DeNoris Mickle)

Staff Sgt. Cahramon Pulatov inspects a generator during a pre-operational maintanence inspection at Vandenberg AFB May 7. The power production journeyman with the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron maintains the machines like this one that generates auxiliary power and helps to ensure lighting for the Vandenberg flight line during a commercial power outage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. DeNoris Mickle)

Airman 1st Class Anthony Richmond connects a generator to the power production building on Vandenberg AFB May 7. The power production journeyman with the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron maintains the machines that generate auxiliary power during a commercial power outage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. DeNoris Mickle)

Airman 1st Class Anthony Richmond connects a generator to the power production building on Vandenberg AFB May 7. The power production journeyman with the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron maintains the machines that generate auxiliary power during a commercial power outage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. DeNoris Mickle)

Staff Sgt. Cahramon Pulatov manually starts a generator during a pre-operational maintanence inspection at Vandenberg AFB May 7.  The power production journeyman with the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron maintains the machines like this one that generates auxiliary power and helps to ensure lighting for the Vandenberg flight line during a commercial power outage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. DeNoris Mickle)

Staff Sgt. Cahramon Pulatov manually starts a generator during a pre-operational maintanence inspection at Vandenberg AFB May 7. The power production journeyman with the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron maintains the machines like this one that generates auxiliary power and helps to ensure lighting for the Vandenberg flight line during a commercial power outage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. DeNoris Mickle)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- When the electricity goes out people may wonder what causes those moments of darkness. But what causes the power to return?

Power production, a section of the 30th civil engineer squadron, maintains generators on base that provide backup power for buildings and operations.

"The power production crew always has at least two Airmen on call 24/7 in case a generator fails," said Staff Sgt. Chuck Paulson, an electrical power production craftsman with the 30th CE squadron.

Power production is not only responsible for the monthly service of the generators on base but also the installation and the repair, Sergeant Paulson said.

"We are responsible for generators from the northern tip to the southern tip" Sergeant Paulson said. "The generators require a once a month power check and an oil inspection which takes place every six months."

The monthly inspection requires a building to operate under minimal power conditions for over an hour, Sergeant Paulson said.

With the wind constantly causing power line outages in Vandenberg, power production becomes essential to the space mission here, Sergeant Paulson said.

When working with satellites and rockets that translate into millions of dollars, precision is a top priority.

Commercial power, at times, can change how much power is coming through. If one of our units detects this irregular activity, it will automatically switch to the generator, Sergeant Paulson said.

"We get calls from people saying their computer works but the light in their bathroom doesn't," Sergeant Paulson said. "The buildings are on grids so that the rooms with the most priority have power."

"The lights in the bathroom aren't a priority, so get a flash light."

Power production team is also responsible for maintaining the backup generators for the Vandenberg Tracking Station, which monitors and maintains information from satellites.

There will always be two people from the unit available at the VTS site to make sure that if power is lost, the generators are working properly, said Staff Sgt. Scott Eberly, an electrical power production craftsman with the 30th CE squadron.

"The best part about the job is feeling like you have accomplished something at the end of the day by helping the mission," Sergeant Paulson said.

Although the power production team is essential to the space mission, some of their best work is done down range.  When a power production unit is deployed, they no longer provide backup power but they provide the only source of power, Sergeant Paulson said.

"We are able to build power plants by linking generators together to form one unit," he said.

Power production also helps with events outside of the hectic work schedule. The team also provides lights and power for outdoor events such as the Special Olympics which took place here in April, Sergeant Eberly said.

Safety is a very important aspect of the power production job, Sgt. Paulson said.

"We practice certain safety techniques such as 'no watches, rings or shiny things' or 'lack out, tag out' a practice that includes shutting off belts when maintaining them." 

Always taking safety into consideration, Vandenberg's power production team works day and night to ensure a constant supply of power for Vandenberg's air and space mission, base support and expeditionary operations, but not necessarily for the bathroom.