David Brown, 78th Civil Engineering Squadron facility maintenance chief, talks about the Combustion Turbine plant that houses two 90- megawatt backup generators for Robins. (U. S. Air Force photo/Sue Sapp)
7/20/2012 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Should power ever be completely lost across the base, two powerful combustion turbine engines at Robins stand ready to supply power as needed.
Placed in operation in 1995, the combustion turbine plant here houses two backup generators, each capable of producing 90 megawatts of electricity. The plant is owned and operated by Georgia Power.
"To put it in perspective, the base at peak demand uses about 64 megawatts," said David Brown, 78th Civil Engineer Squadron Facility Maintenance Flight chief. "But, we are usually closer to about 45 megawatts of power.
"Think of it as a backup for a backup. And, we only need one of those combustion turbines at any given time," he said. "We have approximately two and a half times the capacity that Robins would require."
Prior to 1995, Brown said generators were placed at mission-critical facilities, and are still there; however, the plant now allows CE to power the entire base as if nothing happened on the outside if the power were to go off the grid.
"In other words, in times of severe weather such as a tornado, hurricane, etc., if we lost all power that was feeding into the base, working with Georgia Power, we could power the entire base - and you would never know that there was no power outside of the gate."
About once a year, the plant's capability is tested to make sure all is running smoothly.
The plant's engines can be powered with natural gas or diesel fuel. With natural gas, power can run indefinitely. If that line were to break, for example, we would have a minimum seven days capacity to run at 100 percent.
"In a normal house, in a month it is drawing 1,200 to 1,600 kilowatts," said Brown. "So we are providing 10 times that per hour on Robins."