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Petty Officer 2nd Class Dillon Weiderman and Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Richards, equipment operators with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40 drilling team from Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, Calif., erect a drill tower for work at the Combat Center’s West training area Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008. The Seabees are helping the Public Works Division find hot spots for geothermal energy in the West training area, which can be used to support the base and cut down energy usage. Weiderman, a Michigan native, slides a piece of the drill in place while Richards, a Brainerd, Minn, native, acts as a second set of eyes to make sure the work is completely safely.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Dunn

MCAGCC, Seabees seek energy in earth

19 Dec 2008 | Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Dunn

The Combat Center’s Public Works Division and sailors from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40 at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, Calif., have teamed up to find a source of renewable geothermal energy in the Combat Center’s West training area.

The hunt began when NMCB 40’s drilling team of 20 sailors began their operations at the first well site Dec. 2.

“Basically what we’re doing is drilling five geological wells,” said Chief Petty Officer Jeremy Trujillo, the NMCB 40 drilling team officer in charge. “We’re taking each well down to about 1,000 feet, testing the temperature of the fluid when it goes into the hole and when it exits the hole.

“We generally drill for geothermal energy near fault lines,” added the Albuquerque, N.M., native. “Our ultimate goal is to try to obtain geothermal energy caused by friction from fault lines.”

Since operations can’t be halted once drilling begins, the Seabees of NMCB 40 have been working around the clock since they began drilling at the first well site earlier this month. The 20 sailors have been working 10-hour shifts in crews of five for several weeks.

Gary Morrissett, the PWD energy manager, said the base has been trying to reduce the amount of energy it uses through construction and renovation projects. Drilling for geothermal energy will help create a continuous source of energy, and will save money and the environment.

“We’re looking at using a low temperature heat exchange, which will basically recycle hot water, then transfer it into a secondary liquid,” he said. “The steam created by the transfer will power a turbine for energy, and the water will be put back in the ground and reused.

“We’re still in the exploratory phase of this project,” added Morrisset. “If we do find enough heat down there, we need to decide if we want to build a geothermal plant here.”

The geothermal energy drilling is all a part of the Combat Center’s plan to reduce energy usage and increase renewable energy sources aboard the base.

The energy manager for Headquarters Marine Corps at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Scott Houldsworth, said the transition to renewable energy sources is an important part of the Marine Corps’ mission.

 “We must ensure a secure and reliable energy and water supply to support the operating forces and their families through the energy and water efficient management of facilities’ infrastructure,” he said. “We also need to reduce the life cycle operating costs of the Marine Corps facilities and manage future commodity price volatility.”

PWD has other ongoing projects designed to reduce energy usage aboard the Combat Center, namely the heating and cooling systems in the buildings, and the interior and exterior lighting on the base.

“We’re looking at two key things here – quality of life and energy saving,” said Morrisset, a Belleville, Ill., native. “When we’re able to tie those two things together, we’re able to benefit the base in both ways, and hopefully the Marines as well.

“We’ve been trying to find different projects and different ideas we can incorporate into the energy saving program,” he added. “All the ideas we have in place can either save energy or produce energy.”

The next projected energy efficiency goal, which is set by the Department of Energy, is for military installations to be using seven-and-a-half percent renewable energy by the year 2012. Morrisset said the Combat Center is well on its way to reaching that goal.

PWD will continue its initiative to reduce the amount of energy used aboard the base, and will look at alternative, renewable sources of energy to help save the environment surrounding the base.


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