Yeager Airport making good use of energy resources
You wouldn’t think of Yeager Airport, sitting atop Coonskin Ridge just north of Charleston, as an energy developer, but the airport property is in great position to capture and make use of two clean energy sources.
“We’re getting the solar project back on track,” Terry Sayre, the airport’s executive director, told members of the airport’s construction committee on Monday.
Now that Yeager can re-focus on the future after getting past the safety overrun collapse of March 2015, officials are starting back on the earlier plan to develop a solar energy project that may cover the facility’s $250,000-plus annual power bill.
“We hope to get Phase I of the project — a solar array that would basically become the roof for the top floor of the parking building — underway later this year,” Sayre said.
The Gazette-Mail’s Rick Steelhammer reported Monday that in 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration allocated the Charleston airport more than $15 million to complete the project. If successful, the solar panels would make Yeager the first airport in the nation to supply all of its own power needs.
In addition to the 1.5-acre, 579-kilowatt array atop the parking building, plans call for installing a 1.2 megawatt array on 6.5 acres below runway grade on the Elk River side of Yeager’s runway. That relatively flat site, which includes a fill area created with material from the collapsed safety zone, likely would be the next target for a solar array, Sayre said.
A third array, capable of producing 2.3 megawatts, would be built on a 9.6-acre site a few hundred feet southwest of the 1.2 megawatt array, according to initial plans for the project.
Besides the solar arrays in the planning stages, Yeager also receives revenue from two natural gas wells on the property. Airport officials are considering installing underground pipe to use some of the gas from those wells for airport use, taking advantage of the full amount of free gas and discounted gas the lease with Reserve Oil & Gas calls for.
Yeager’s use of two of its energy assets — clear, flat and otherwise unused land that gets plenty of sun, and the methane gas naturally available from the Huron shale formation underground — make good sense.
It’s almost as if airport officials had read the column in the Sunday Gazette-Mail’s’ Perspectives section by Donald W. Lyons, touting the use of all available forms of energy to power the nation’s need for energy.
“Most people, within their lifetimes, have become aware of advancements in energy research,” Lyons wrote. “Especially in recent years we have seen very significant advancements in wind and solar power and major improvements in energy efficiency.”
Yet Lyons noted that renewables can’t provide all the energy an industrialized digital society needs. So using the available natural gas is a wise choice as well.
Good job by the airport officials for smart, efficient use of its available energy resources.