Idyllwild Office one of contributing projects

The U.S. Forest Service’s Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests were recently honored and recognized for their efforts to conserve energy through the implementation of renewable energy projects. The two forests received the award for implementing and constructing 63 different projects (including several on the San Jacinto Ranger District). Energy savings from these projects is estimated to be 80 percent of their previous energy consumption.

The Department of Energy gives the Federal Energy and Water Management Project Award to federal government projects that cut energy waste and promote energy independence, resilience and security.

“This large-scale energy efficiency project supports our mission to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests,” said Regional Forester, Randy Moore for the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region, in a press release announcing the award. “The project saved about 4,899 million BTUs of energy, which equates to saving $225,000 in energy costs annually.” The Pacific Southwest Region has earned three DOE Federal Energy and Water Management Award

New solar panels on the roof of the U.S. Forest Service’s local warehouse help conserve energy and save money.
Photo courtesy Brenda G. Kendrix, media coordination officer (Acting)/Public Affairs Specialist for the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region.

Region 5’s ESPC ENABLE project streamlined procurement for implementation of energy conservation measures at nine Forest Service locations across both national forests. Upgrades include lighting, HVAC controls, one-for-one HVAC replacements, and photovoltaic systems.

Within the San Jacinto District, three major projects contributed to the energy savings and ultimately the award. The work was installed at the Idyllwild ranger station and the warehouse and woodshed. The specific conservation measures included lighting upgrades, one-for-one HVAC replacements, and HVAC controls. In addition, the District office now has a 15 kW roof-mounted PV array.

According to Brenda Kendrix, Media Coordination Officer for the region, the annual savings from reduced utility expenditures are expected to be approximately $8,890 at just this location.

Other projects installed in the SBNF were additional roof and ground-mounted arrays at the Big Bear Visitor Center, the Mill Creek Ranger Station and the Lytle Creek Ranger Station.

“Next we’ll focus on an additional five off-grid Forest Service sites across the Cleveland, Los Padres, Sequoia, Mendocino and Plumas National Forests,” said Lara Buluç, Region 5 Sustainable Operations Coordinator and Project Co-Lead. “Each site will receive a mobile solar photovoltaic system to replace diesel and propane generators, plus more efficient lighting. We expect to save about $143,600 annually in fuel costs.”

The Pacific Southwest’s success has spurred the Forest Service to launch similar projects across the country. In Oregon and Washington, the Forest Service will streamline procurement and small, energy efficiency projects across 390 agency sites. In addition, the Forest Service is initiating implementation of another 10 ESPC ENABLE projects nationwide with support from a DOE grant.