Pittsburgh Int’l Airport goes off the grid

A few years ago, there were some major power outages at airports that wreaked havoc with air travel in those regions.

The list of airports affected was not inconsequential.

Power outages and equipment failures affected Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Washington’s Reagan National Airport (DCA), and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

New York’s LaGuardia Airport also got hit. And so did John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA, Philadelphia International Airport, and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. New Orleans International Airport lost power twice due to high winds associated with Tropical Storm Olga.

And in response, some airports moved ahead with plans to go off the grid and create their own independent electricity sources, or microgrids.

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) was one of those airports. And in 2019 PIT declared its intention to become the first major U.S. airport to create a self-sufficient energy system – or microgrid. Their plan includes using only energy sources (solar and natural gas) from its own property.

PIT made good on its promise and this week, becoming the first airport in the world to be completely powered by natural gas and solar energy from its own, now-live microgrid.

Crews started construction in July 2020 and completed the project on schedule even as the pandemic stalled the aviation industry last year.

The power generated at PIT by its microgrid is now the primary power supply for the entire airport.

This includes the terminals, the airfield, a Hyatt hotel, and a Sunoco station. The microgrid will generate power from onsite natural gas wells and 9,360 solar panels across eight acres.

The airport remains connected to the traditional electrical grid as an option for emergency or backup power if needed.

We are declaring this our Airport Amenity of the Week.

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One thought on “Pittsburgh Int’l Airport goes off the grid

  1. Ross says:

    Fascinating! And so timely.

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