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A partnership designed to give Hill Air Force Base an efficiency face lift is expected to shave 20 percent off the base's $14.5 million annual utility bill.

The base has initiated a contract with Utah Power and a company hired by the utility, CES/Way International Inc., to find ways to save the base thousands of megawatt-hours of electricity over the next 15 years. Electrical bills count for $8 million of the base's utility costs each year.Base spokesman Len Barry said the cost-cutting partnership is the first basewide project of this size for any department of the federal government. "It's almost a dream come true for Hill's energy monitors, who are working to meet a federal mandate of cutting the base's energy use 30 percent by the year 2005," he said.

"We have goals we've been trying to meet since the mandate started in 1985," said Craig Priest, who runs Hill's energy monitoring program for the 649th Civil Engineer Squadron. "We are a little behind on our goals, but we should be able to more than meet those goals with this new partnership."

Hill has 1,400 buildings, many of them more than 50 years old and larger than 400,000 square feet.

Much of the power savings is expected by replacing older lamps and ballasts with lower wattage types that provide the same amount of light in offices and buildings. Environmental enhancements are expected, too. Older machinery or motors that use or produce ozone-depleting materials will be replaced with more efficient devices.

Over the term of the contract, Hill will pay CES/Way for the new equipment out of the savings it realizes in utility costs, Barry said.

It might appear counterproductive for a power company to help one of its largest customers reduce its demand for electricity, but Utah Power stands to come out ahead, said Dan Mooney, senior vice president of Utah Power's parent company, PacifiCorp.

"PacifiCorp has everything to gain from this project," he said. "We have nothing to lose since the performance contract we're proposing commits the company to pay only for the energy savings Hill actually realizes. That recaptured megawatt-hours savings per year can be sold to other customers."

Mooney said his goal is to make the closure-threatened base the most energy-efficient base in the country.