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Solar panels in TVC housing
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Contractors at Tierra Vista Communities scale the rooftop of a residence in base housing to test solar panels that were installed over the summer. The panels were installed as part of a 20-year lease that is expected to save more than $1.1 million in energy costs. These savings will provide additional funds for neighborhood improvements. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Aaron Breeden)
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Peterson AFB: Catching rays, saving dough

Posted 10/25/2013   Updated 10/25/2013 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden
21st Space Wing Public Affairs

10/25/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Since the 2007 partnership of Tierra Vista Communities and Peterson AFB privatized base housing, TVC has worked diligently to improve the quality of life for on-base residents. While there is some intermittent work still on-going, in July, TVC wrapped up a five-month-long project installing solar panels on the new homes, which will conservatively save more than $1.1 million in utility costs over the next 20 years.

John Bittner, TVC development manager, said the current electricity rate on-base is about one cent cheaper per kilowatt hour compared to Colorado Springs Utilities. This margin is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years, he added.

Furthermore, Bittner equated the panel's offset of carbon emissions to eliminating more than 4.7 million pounds of coal annually, a huge step in the "going green" direction.

"Right now it's kind of like, 'Eh, this helps,'" said Bittner. "But, 20 years down the road (we'll say), 'Ah! This was a genius move!'"

So, what do the savings from this "green" money mean for base residents?

Prior to the privatization of base housing, any saved monies would be put back into the base's general fund and redistributed to agencies across the base. This is no longer the case.

"After paying all of our bills ... money saved on operations goes into a reinvestment account," said Bittner. "(When the account) fills up to a certain extent we can build more homes; we can put in playgrounds; we can do great things in the community."

"Whatever (goes into that account) goes back to the community, which is a huge, wonderful thing," said Bittner.

"The residents that live here today might not see that new house or playground, but down the road the money saved will benefit future Airmen," he said.

Surprisingly, Bittner said that Peterson residents were overwhelmingly supportive of the project and many never realized the workers installing the panels had already come and gone from their home.

"It is a partnership with the residents, the base command and TVC all working together to make a successful project," said Bittner. "It was as smooth of a project as you can possibly have."

For more information about this project or how to help reduce your carbon foot print, call TVC at 597-7200.

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