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Peterson energy: Riding the wave

Pete Light

To make energy-saving suggestions, contact Pete Light at or call the Energy Hotline at 556-4900. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Though the 2010-2011 ski season may be over, the lingering snowpack still found a way to help Peterson AFB this summer.

For the majority Colorado residents, the melting snow brought on summer adventures, but for the Peterson AFB energy team, it allowed them to procure a "greener" type of electricity: hydroelectric power. The Western Area Power Administration is a hydroelectric power provider for the western portion of the United States; the WAPA power plant for Colorado is located in the Loveland area. It uses water flow to power turbines creating electricity. Yet, due to flow rates not always being the same, hydroelectric power plants typically run seasonally, or run at partial capacity throughout the year. WAPA typically operates the Loveland Area Plant at partial capacity to provide consistent power to their customers throughout the year.

WAPA customers throughout the region are contractually allotted a specific amount of power each month. Due to unusually high runoff from snow melt, Peterson received 160 percent more power from WAPA this summer. This saved Peterson approximately $18,000 in utility costs for the month of July and avoided the production of 3.59 million pounds of green house gas.

With winter approaching, the Peterson Energy Team is hoping for another heavy snow pack year not only for the skiing and snowboarding opportunities, but to take advantage of some cheaper, "greener" power next spring and summer.

October is "Energy Awareness Month". This year's theme is, "Turn Words into Action... Turn Action into Results Save Energy - Save Money." Keep an eye out for PeteLight appearances at the base exchange and the gates.

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