Getting Energized For Alternative Fuels

William Anderson, the Air Force’s point man for its alternative and renewable energy initiatives, will hold a town-hall meeting Jan. 30 in Great Falls, Mont., to discuss the idea of building a synthetic fuel plant at nearby Malmstrom AFB. An industry forum for potential business partners will take place on the following day. USAF is exploring the possibility of leasing underutilized property at Malmstrom to a private developer for the construction of a coal-to-liquid plant. It would produce about 20,000 barrels to 30,000-barrels per day of the synthetic fuel that the Air Force intends to use in its entire fleet starting early next decade as a means to freeing the United States from dependence on foreign sources of energy. Malmstrom makes sense as a location since it “resides close to some of the richest and most abundant coal resources in the world and is close to a major river and crucial rail transportation system,” the Air Force says. USAF officials have said the base could be up and running as early as 2011. As many as 1,000 people could be employed during construction, with 300 to 400 permanent plant workers, the Great Falls Tribune reported yesterday.