PROVIDENCE, R.I. (NNS) -- For the fifth year in a row, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse invited Ocean State leaders from the public and private sectors to participate in a day-long forum focused on the challenges and opportunities faced in protecting our environment.
Naval Station (NAVSTA) Newport, a regular attendee at these events, took the opportunity to showcase the many accomplishments the installation has achieved over the years in its pursuit to lessen the Navy's reliance on fossil fuels, reduce energy consumption rate and seek alternative energy solutions to ever increasing energy needs.
The day began with welcome remarks by Sen. Whitehouse who introduced Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee (D), one of the many political leaders at the forum.
"Rhode Island is one of the national leaders in efficiency programs," Chafee said. "I am a little bit alarmed that we are not using all of the tools in our tool belts to do what we can to protect our planet."
Chafee highlighted some of the incentives and programs that exist within the state and federal government to help in the pursuit of reducing reliance on fossil fuels, improving efficiency and reducing energy costs.
Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence since 1998, was a key note speaker for the event and is passionate about her life pursuit of protecting the oceans.
"We have to fundamentally make peace with the planet," said Earle. "Earth is where the action is for us. There are probably other possibilities out there (in the universe) but for now this is home - we have to take care of the natural world that takes care of us. We must protect what is vital to our existence."
Also speaking at the event was the Honorable Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, and Jeff Goodell, author of "Big Coal: The Dirty Secret behind America's Energy Future" and contributing editor to Rolling Stone Magazine.
The Navy's approach to shore energy has three pillars: energy efficiency; culture and behavior; and renewable energy and sustainability.
John Reichert, NAVSTA Newport's Energy Manager and Lt.j.g. Olive Oliveros, Assistant Public Works Officer, participated in the exhibitor showcase and discussed some of the many initiatives taking place on the base helping to enforce the installation's pillars.
Initiatives include a recently undertaken environmental assessment to study the feasibility of a photo voltaic project for the installation to augment electricity consumption; and Energy Saving Performance Contracts with Honeywell, Siemens, Central Maine Power and National Grid that have improved monitoring and efficiency throughout the installation saving millions of dollars annually.
Other initiatives include five major projects aimed at improving water distribution; and replacing 90 percent of the entire steam distribution system over the last seven years.
The installation was awarded the 2013 SECNAV award for Energy Conservation and Management and is home to 50 Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Coast Guard and NOAA commands with approximately 12,000 plus military and civilian personnel working and training on the station daily.
"Our energy needs are immense," said Capt. Douglas Mikatarian, commanding officer, Naval Station Newport. "We have been making great strides towards becoming more efficient, changing our culture and reducing our costs."
"It's great to be able to participate in events like the one held today so that we can showcase our accomplishments and learn more about opportunities for further improvements," he said.
NAVSTA Newport is the Navy's Center of Excellence for Officer and Senior Enlisted Education and Training and home to such prestigious commands as the Naval War College; Naval Undersea Warfare Center; Naval Justice School; Officer Training Command Newport, and the Senior Enlisted Academy.
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