HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Is Hill Air Force Base turning a shade of green? No, not the sickly shade of green. The environmental shade of green.

Over the past few years, base officials have been striving to reduce their carbon footprint by converting landfill gas into electricity and by purchasing steam heat from the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District's incinerator.

In the fall, the base plans to install ground-based solar panels.

Tuesday, Rocky Mountain Power president Rich Walje recognized Hill's participation in the electric utility's Blue Sky program, which allows customers to purchase renewable energy. Hill Air Force Base is the largest purchaser of renewable energy among Rocky Mountain Power's 27,000 customers in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho who participate in the Blue Sky program.

The base has committed to buying 750,000 kilowatt-hours of Blue Sky energy each month. The average home uses about 770 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month, said Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Jeff Hymas.

Green power is still a small part of Hill's total electrical usage, which is an average of 20.5 million kilowatt-hours a month.

Of the hundreds of thousands of dollars Hill spends each month on electricity, its green power spending accounts for about 3.6 percent, said David Abbott, the base's utility manager.

Despite that small contribution, Walje said, those 750,000 kilowatt-hours will have significant impacts to the environment over the next year.

In 12 months, the renewable energy purchase will avoid 9,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is equivalent to driving 19.2 million fewer miles or planting 3,535 acres of trees, Walje said.

"The magnitude of what Hill Air Force Base is doing is very impressive," he said.

Abbott said the base has a presidential mandate to have 5 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2012.

"This agreement with Rocky Mountain Power helps us meet that goal ahead of schedule," he said.

Maj. Gen. Kathleen Close, commander of the Ogden Air Logistics Center, said Hill is constantly looking for ways to reduce energy.

In a news release, Abbott said employees receive reminders during peak usage months to take extra energy conservation measures.

"We hope what we have done will inspire others to participate in Blue Sky program," Close said.

The Blue Sky program was named the 2007 Green Power Program of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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