FORT BENNING, Ga. (April 11, 2012) -- Fort Benning wants its units, directorates and agencies to lower excess energy use and promote awareness about power consumption. Officials will make it worth their while.

In an effort to enhance stewardship of taxpayer money and the environment, the installation has rolled out the Energy Conservation and Incentive Program, which is aimed at getting personnel to do their part in facilities around post, said Peter Lukken, the garrison's strategic sustainability planner.

Each quarter, organizations will receive recognition and those that cut energy use can earn up to $3,000 toward their unit fund.

He said baselines were determined earlier this year. The initial batch of winners -- in small and large categories -- will be honored April 27 at the Commanding General's Excellence Breakfast.

"There is incentive for everyone on post to conserve energy," he said. "It's extremely important, and this allows everybody to participate."

Secretary of the Army John McHugh recently stated that 80 percent of the federal government's energy use can be traced to the Department of Defense. The Army is the largest consumer, accounting for 21 percent of that figure, or more than $1.2 billion annually in facility energy costs.

In 2011, Fort Benning's energy consumption was 365 million kilowatt hours, which is roughly 56 percent of the entire production from Georgia Power's four Chattahoochee River plants, officials said. The post has set a goal of reducing energy use here by 30 percent before 2015.

"Energy conservation becomes increasingly imperative as the Army's budgets shrink," he said. "More demands are being put on installations and there's less money for Defense spending, but we still have a mission to fulfill. Fort Benning will learn how to do more with less, and there is no better way to tackle this than with our energy conservation initiatives, where everyone working and living on base can do their part."

Lukken said offering money to compel people to curb their energy habits could be construed as a contrast in terms -- since lower expenses are the ultimate objective. But in the awards program's first two months, the installation has already notched $100,000 in energy-cost savings, he said.

During construction for Base Realignment and Closure, Fort Benning incorporated high energy-efficiency standards and many technologies into its new facilities to meet power-reduction goals. But Maneuver Center of Excellence leaders said the human factor can never be discounted in conservation steps.

"Whether it is remembering to turn off lights in a room, using products that are energy efficient or unplugging items when not in use, all of the energy-reduction measures we take will result in fewer dollars going toward energy costs and more dollars going toward our Soldiers," Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, the MCoE and Fort Benning commanding general, wrote in a memorandum issued Wednesday. "Addressing energy conservation is operationally necessary, financially prudent and essential to mission success."

Page last updated Wed April 11th, 2012 at 00:00