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Tinker steam decentralization project takes big step

In an effort to make Tinker more energy efficient, workers install 4-inch gas lines along D Avenue. The base steam system will soon be decentralized and in its place, new energy-efficient equipment is being installed and individual gas lines are being run  to each building. (Air Force photo)

In an effort to make Tinker more energy efficient, workers install 4-inch gas lines along D Avenue. The base steam system will soon be decentralized and in its place, new energy-efficient equipment is being installed and individual gas lines are being run to each building. (Air Force photo)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla -- Tinker is one step closer to being more energy efficient. The base steam system is being decentralized and some of the plants are closing. The first plant was closed in late April marking a big step in the Air Force's largest domestic energy retrofit project. To take the place of this central steam plant, new heat-generating, energy-efficient equipment and individualized gas lines that will run to each building are being installed and commissioned.

Tinker has four central plants, three of which will be permanently shut down. The fourth, located near the east runway, will be improved. Work began in October 2012 and a completion date is scheduled for July 2015.

"This will reduce our gas usage by more than 30 percent. There will be electricity and water savings as well," said Rex Stanford, 72nd Air Base Wing Civil Engineer Directorate mechanical engineer and project manager. "We're basically replacing 40 or 50-year-old technology with more current stuff."

Under the Energy Savings Performance contract, a contractor funds the project upfront with Tinker's approval. In return, the government will repay the cost to the contractor over the course of 22 years. Honeywell, a technology manufacturing company based in New Jersey, funded the project. Honeywell guarantees the improvements will generate cost savings sufficient to pay for the contract, officials said.

The project is estimated to save the base approximately $6 million per year, with roughly 20 percent of the savings coming from the smallest steam plant, which was shut down last month and is situated near the dorms. The remaining two steam plants are in the central area of the base. One more will be closed in the very near future.

Mr. Stanford said work is approximately 60 percent complete, but despite the work being done, Tinker personnel shouldn't have noticed a difference.

"We're trying to make sure we have the least impact on people and processes possible," said Bill Jackson, Honeywell project manager. "It may be a small inconvenience, but it will be a vast improvement."