News>End of an era: heat plant replaced by greener alternative
The heat plant on Dover Air Force Base, Del., was decommissioned Sept. 28, 2012, having operated 24/7 since 1954. The plant will be replaced by a natural gas heating system that will provide domestic hot water and heat for the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)
Bobbie Grimes inspects a boiler at the Dover Air Force Base, Del. heat plant Oct. 4, 2012. The heat plant, which has been in operation since 1954, is scheduled for demolition in the coming months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)
by Airman 1st Class Samuel Taylor
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
10/5/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- After 58 years of continuous service, the heat plant at Dover Air Force Base, Del., is hanging up the towel. The facility was decommissioned and cleared out in late September 2012, and is scheduled for demolition in the coming months.
The decision to close the plant came after a 2010 survey reported that the heating systems were inefficient. A natural gas system will take over the responsibility of providing domestic hot water and heating to the facilities on base. The conversion is expected to pay for itself by saving thousands of gallons of water over its lifetime.
"As far as heating goes, it will be business as usual, except more efficient," said Kevin Register, foreman of the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning shop. "The new natural gas system is expected to save water, provide a safer work environment for HVAC workers, and eliminate the need to "dig up half the base each time a pipe breaks."
The change reflects a trend towards a greener Air Force, with aircraft running on biofuels and solar panels being erected on installations around the globe. With October being Energy Action Month, it is fitting that the changeover to a more efficient system occur now.
However, according to members of the HVAC shop, the destruction of the half-century old facility will be bittersweet.
"I am sad to see it go," said Bobbie Grimes, heat plant supervisor. Grimes is responsible for devising and implementing numerous original solutions and fixes within the plant that have saved the Air Force thousands of dollars. "I have had some good memories working in here with some good people. I will miss this place."