By Rear Adm. Frank Ponds (Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific)
In order to achieve greater energy security the Commander in Chief declared October “Energy Action Month.”
The Navy is leading efforts to accelerate from “awareness” to “action” in order to save energy, water and money for American taxpayers.
The idea of focusing on action to achieve greater energy security is especially timely.
Last week the Navy commemorated our 237th birthday. It was an opportunity to focus on our Navy’s legacy of innovation and commitment to new technologies, including warfighting techniques and platforms.
In our Navy’s history, we have moved from wooden sailing ships to steam-powered steel hulls and nuclear power, from cannons and battleships to naval aviation, submarines and advanced surface warfare capability with Aegis guided missiles.
Here in Hawaii, ever mindful of the call for action to achieve greater energy security, we embrace innovation while preserving history and maintaining force readiness.
History shows us that wars are often fought over resources. World War II in the Pacific began because of Imperial Japan’s aggression against other Asian countries in search of petroleum and raw materials. The United States and allies prevented the importing of oil and minerals into Japan in the late 1930s, leading directly to the attack of Dec. 7, 1941.
Our Navy and Marine Corps leaders testify that U.S. service members in the field are at greater risk because of a dependency on fossil fuels.
As Senator Daniel K. Inouye points out, “Our sons and daughters have fought and died in the desert” in order to “stabilize the Middle East and to safeguard democracy” — in part because of oil.
As a Medal of Honor recipient from World War II and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Inouye speaks with great credibility and insight. He commends the Department of Defense’s investment in alternative energy and supports the Navy’s innovative approaches in adapting new technologies and methods on conserving and generating renewable energy.
Done right, our energy security initiatives here in Hawaii can serve as a tribute to our warfighters, past and present.
Working with other services and agencies, we are implementing the Joint Energy Security Initiative in Hawaii to continue our efforts to achieve greater energy security and sustainability. The Navy in Hawaii is working with our partners to evaluate different types of renewable energy, including wind, wave, photovoltaic, biofuels and geothermal.
We are looking at all available and acceptable sites for our most effective renewable energy option in southern Oahu – energy from the sun. We are evaluating sites at Waipio Peninsula, West Loch and at the Joint Base. Done right, we can preserve history and protect areas, including the former runway at Ford Island, as a tribute. In the first year of operation, that one solar array at Ford Island would save taxpayers $1.5M.
Another innovative approach that is working for the Navy is the Renewable Energy Conservation Program — a way for military residents in public-private venture housing to do their part to reduce excessive energy use. Navy Region Hawaii and our Forest City partners served as the pilot program for RECP, which is now being instituted worldwide. Families now have an incentive to save electricity, and they are doing their share.
This past summer we hosted RIMPAC 2012, in which the whole world watched the Navy demonstrate advanced biofuels in the “Great Green Fleet.”
Recent awards show our commands in Hawaii are demonstrating their ability, as one team, to manage energy and water resources. Each of our installations in Hawaii and several area afloat commands received recognition directly from the Secretary of the Navy this month for energy and water management.
We all need to work together to meet national, state and Secretary of the Navy renewable energy sustainability goals as we face ever-growing fuel costs and budgetary challenges in the years ahead.
This is a force readiness issue. The reasons to act are clear. The time to act is now.
During Energy Action Month we are asked to “think globally … lead locally.” Let’s continue to lead and take action together.
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