Microgrid Project Underway for Pittsburgh Airport


Construction had begun on what officials are calling a “first-of-its-kind” electrical microgrid for the Pittsburgh International Airport. According to the Allegheny County Airport Authority, preliminary work has begun for the plant that will include five natural gas generators and 7,800 solar panels.

The new facility will produce about 23 megawatts total (enough to power more than 13,000 homes). The airport’s peak demand, meanwhile, has been around 14 megawatts.

When completed, the microgrid will become the airport’s primary power sources; however, the airport will remain connected to the traditional grid as a backup option.

“Part of our mission is to be a world leader in aviation innovation and this project is about powering airports into the future,” said Pittsburgh International Airport CEO Christina Cassotis. “This project will bring power resiliency and redundancy to enhance safety and ensure continued operations for the traveling public.”

The facility is to be built, operated and maintained by Peoples Natural Gas, and while the solar facility design is only about 75% complete, it is expected to be on track for approvals, and construction of that portion is expected to begin in the fall.

The entire facility is expected to be complete in the second quarter of 2021.

The microgrid is a key component of the Terminal Modernization program, though much of the other planned renovations and upgrades to PIT have been put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other Plans

In May, PIT officials announced that the $1.1 billion overhaul for the airport was indefinitely put on hold with Cassotis saying that the upgrades, though, are still necessary for the airport’s future.

The authority announced the project, which includes a new landside terminal, new roads, and a new building for baggage and security, in September 2017.

Cassotis said that, while the pause in the project comes as one of the worst economic tolls that the airline industry has ever seen, it does present an opportunity to consider how the airport should be designed in a post-pandemic world.

Plexiglass at ticket counters, floor markings that encourage people to stay six feet apart and more visible cleaning efforts are all some of the ideas that the airport is looking at.

Officials are also reportedly forming a public health advisory committee to study the issues further.

Cassotis wouldn’t speculate on how long the project would be delayed, though the terminal was expected to be complete in 2023, with project bids originally anticipated to be released by the end of this year.


Tagged categories: Airports; Energy efficiency; Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America; Solar; Solar energy

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