By Staff Sgt. Michel Sauret
Multi-National Division - Center
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – Soon, streets around Victory Base Complex will start to be surprisingly quiet. The complex's biggest noise-makers, power generators, will soon be replaced by the power lines popping up around base.
The sounds of silence, or quiet at least, also represent a savings of close to $180 million a year in fuel costs, transportation, maintenance and repairs.
Two power plants – called "generator farms" – are in place on base to run overhead power lines to satellite substations, which will replace roughly 100 generators or more.
The bigger of the two plants is already complete; the other is approximately 97 percent finished. The total project won't be complete until January 2010, as contractors continue to add substations and low-voltage, secondary distribution lines.
The west plant will pay for itself within a 14-month period, and the east plant within 12 months, said Maj. Dennis Gaw, of Nashville, the utility chief for the directorate of public works for the Victory Base Complex.
In all, 43 kilometers of power lines will run throughout the base complex to replace the generators—enough cable to outline a marathon course.
"The new power lines will provide extra power support to new facilities that were only receiving power by diesel generators. These diesel generators are very costly; they take a lot of work to maintain and keep up," said Gaw.
Several hundred fuel-run generators throughout the base produce up to a megawatt of electricity each, which is approximately how much energy is consumed by a subdivision of 30 to 40 homes back in the U.S.
During the summer months, the base can consume up to 250 megawatts a day, when hot temperatures cause service members to crank their air-conditioning units to the max. Gaw said this is the equivalent of what a town the size of Chattanooga, Tenn., might consume – with a population of 168,000.
"One of the biggest things is the cost of supporting and maintaining fuel to the spot generation that's throughout the VBC," said Master Sgt. Gerald Linendoll, of Gansevoort, N.Y., utility noncommissioned officer for the base directorate of public works.
Fuel trucks must to travel to various locations causing additional damage to already poor roads to refuel the units that produce only 50 percent of the power they actually produce.
"We've got a lot of advantages here. [Fewer] trucks on the road ... You're centrally locating a power plant providing power out to the facilities, rather than having to haul the fuel out to the generators.
"Consolidated generators within a power plant operate on maximum efficiency, 90 to 100 percent of their peak capacity," he continued, "allowing only the required number of generators per the required load."
A spot generator provides power to a load whether there is demand or not, burning fuel whether it is providing 100 watts of power or 1,000 watts of power, said Linendoll. At the power plant, the generators automatically come on line when the load demand requires, which consumes much less fuel.
"Once those (plants) are complete, then we'll be able to fully provide power to a lot of new facilities here," Gaw said. "This has been an ongoing project which takes a while to complete, and we're on the verge of having a really good power system here at VBC."
A really good power system enables the Iraqi forces to more successfully take over the complex when they are ready.
"It will be a whole lot easier for us to transition bases this way. And plus, this is a long-range saving tool. We're using a whole lot less fuel, saving a lot of fuel dollars and it's a lot less maintenance," said Gaw.
This work, Camp Victory cranks up power, cuts the noise, by MSG Michel Sauret, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.