February 23, 2011

General takes power lesson to try to lessen loss of lives

As the warm February sun beamed down, former U.S. Army Brigadier Gen. Steven Anderson watched as CSU energy engineer Carol Dollard showed off one of the university's multiple solar-panel installations.

Anderson, who served as the Army's chief logistics officer in Iraq under Gen. David Petraeus, toured Colorado State University, Abound Solar and Vestas Wind Technology on Tuesday to learn more about home-grown alternative power sources. Anderson is now senior vice president with battlefield services company Relyant and is lobbying the Army to reduce its reliance on foreign sources of fuel.

Anderson argues that more than 1,000 Americans have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan hauling fuel to air-condition tents and buildings and says using wind and solar to generate electricity at forward operating bases in combat zones would lower costs and save lives. He said $3 gallon diesel fuel can end up costing the military $300 a gallon depending on how far it must travel to reach troops.

"There's a cost in dollars and blood," he said during his tour of CSU on Tuesday. "We've got all of these assets tied up in moving fuel."

Anderson's trip was organized by the VetVoice Foundation, which seeks to be a voice for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, including in the areas of green jobs for returning veterans.

Anderson said the military needs to learn that improved energy efficiency, particularly when it comes to reducing the demand for diesel, will improve operational effectiveness by removing fat "Taliban targets" - fuel tankers - from the road and freeing up soldiers to fight.

On his tour, Anderson learned about the solar panels at CSU installed by Louisville-based Bella Energy. The panels, including those on the engineering building and the new Lake Street parking garage, produce 0.1 percent of the electricity used on the campus. Including the university-hosted solar farm on the Foothills Campus and other renewable energy credits, the university gets about 3.4 percent of its power from solar, Dollard said.

During the tour, Anderson and Bella CEO James Welch discussed installing solar panels in sunny desert areas, which would give manufacturers opportunities to develop technology that could be deployed back home.

"There's an opportunity here to take our expertise instead of buying oil," Welch said.

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