Family Housing Contributes to Green Future on Guantanamo

Story Number: NNS110706-12Release Date: 7/6/2011 2:01:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joe Koerber, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Public Affairs

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Family housing at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, began sending utility consumption data reports to service members, contractors and civilians residing in Guantanamo's 18 neighborhoods, June 13 through July 6.

The reports were disseminated in an effort to help Guantanamo Bay become more energy efficient by showing residents the amount of energy consumed at home.

The utility consumption data reports are mock electricity and water bills that highlight the cost of a unit's electricity at Guantanamo, which is four times more expensive than in the U.S.

"In the states, electricity costs about 10 cents per kilowatt hour," said Rudy Sammons, NS Guantanamo Bay family housing director. "Here in Guantanamo Bay, energy costs 42 cents per kilowatt hour. It is substantially higher here."

The utility consumption data reports will help base officials set a baseline for residents' household energy consumption, which cumulatively costs the base more than $9 million per month, said Sammons.

Because Guantanamo Bay does not use local resources from its host country, any energy resources needed to support base residents must be shipped by barge from the U.S.

According to Navy Region Southeast's 2011-2013 Energy Strategy, approximately 91 percent of fuel used in the southeast region is used at Guantanamo Bay.

NS Guantanamo Bay's Public Works Department has taken steps toward increasing the efficiency of its energy production. In addition to these steps, there are several projects planned that will save energy, such as replacing halogen lights with light-emitting diode lights and powering its new gym facilities with a solar array.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus laid out five aggressive energy goals in October 2009 to improve our energy security and efficiency, increase our energy independence, and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy. This initiative assists in achieving the energy goal of increasing alternative energy afloat and ashore where by 2020, the Department of the Navy (DON) will produce at least 50 percent of shore-based energy requirements from alternative sources and 50 percent of DON installations will be net-zero.

Along with these operational changes, a culture of conservation must be created among Guantanamo's residents, said Capt. Kirk R. Hibbert, NS Guantanamo Bay commanding officer and chairman of Navy Region Southeast's Team II Energy Council.

"You cannot start saving electricity and water until you know what you have been spending," said Hibbert. "With every kilowatt hour we consume here on the base, there is an associated fuel and transportation cost."

Rising fuel prices resulted in a higher cost for supporting residents and operations on Guantanamo Bay; approximately $4 million more per year, according to Hibbert, whose priority is curbing that number by making base residents more aware of their consumption.

"Help us move toward a mindset and a culture of conservation as we start to move toward these national goals," said Hibbert.

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