solar power

Some electric transportation news

When you buy an Amtrak ticket, you sometimes end up riding a diesel-powered bus instead of a train pulled by an diesel-fueled, dual-powered (electric and diesel) or electric (in the Northeast) locomotive.

Now at least one of the diesel-powered buses in the Amtrak network is being replaced by an electric-powered bus.

Passengers traveling mid-day on the Amtrak Cascades route in the Pacific Northwest through Oregon and Washington to Vancouver, B.C. will now get to ride on an electric-powered bus between between Seattle and Bellingham, WA instead of on the diesel-powered bus that has been serving this trip segment.

The bus is the first electric vehicle (EV) in the Amtrak National Network and can make the nearly 200-mile roundtrip on one single charge

A ride in the right direction.

SFO Airport will help save energy in an emergency

It’s another very hot summer. And airports around the country are doing their part to reduce their draw on the elecricity grid during times when air conditioners and other appliances are in heavy use.

Denver International Airport, Chattanooga Airport , Indianapolis International Airport (IND) and many others have large solar farms that provide much, and in some cases, all of the electricity needed to power airport operations. And Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) is completely powered by natural gas and solar via its own microgrid.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO), which earned an award in 2019 for being the world’s first Zero Net Energy (ZNE) facility at an airport, has a large rooftop solar farm. But SFO still gets some of its electricty from the city’s hydroelectric grid.

So to do its part for added energy conservation during the city’s Flex Alerts, which the cities issues when extremely hot weather drives up electricity use, the airport is committing to a variety of measures which may have a slight impact on passengers. The airport expects it will get 24-hour notice on these Flex Alerts which usually run from 4 pm to 9pm. So if anything on the list below alarms you, be sure to check the SFO website before you travel.

  • The AirTrain people mover may reduce the frequency of service from every 4 minutes to every 8 minutes.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers in all SFO Parking Garages may be temporary deactivated.
  • Airport cooling may be adjusted to reduce electricity usage, allowing terminals to be just a bit warmer than usual.
  • Airport lighting may be reduced throughout terminals.

Solar-powered boarding ramps – in Seattle?

As we head into the dark, dreary and drippy season here in Seattle, my first question about the solar powered boarding ramps being tested by Alaska Airlines was “How can that possibly work?”

Alaska Airlines boarding ramp

The answer to that question – and a host of others relating to efficiently getting passengers on and off a plane – will show up soon in a story I’m working on for the CNBC Road Warrior.

If you’ve got an opinion – or a fresh idea – on how to streamline the boarding process please add a comment below. You might end up part of the story.

Air France turning old uniforms into car insulation

At airports and on airlines, green is in and getting “inner.”

Airports are installing solar farms and wind turbines and getting serious about recycling food waste and other materials generated inside the terminals.

Airlines are rolling out in-flight recycling programs and having flight attendants separate the trash they collect as they go up and down the aisles.

Delta Air Lines gives its old seat covers to Tierra Ideas, which turns them into cool bags.

And now Air France is collecting old uniforms from ground staff and crew uniforms at Paris-Orly and Paris-Charles de Gaulle airports so that the clothing can be recycled as car insulation at a specialized recycling plant.

Air France recycling uniforms

Solar powered airports? Yup!

Earth Hour, Earth Day and Earth Month may be over for this year, but the trend to go green is becoming a year-round thing at many airports.   Rare is the terminals that doesn’t at least have recycling bins these days.  And now many airports are embracing solar power and wind power.

My recent column in has a round-up of aiports generating some of their own juice.  Included: Denver International Airport, Fresno Yosemite International Airport, Oakland International Airport, Austin-Bergstrom Interrnational Airport, Long Beach Airport, Boston Logan International Airport and several others.

Here’s a link to the story: Solar Airports? It could happen.


7 acres of solar panels field at Denver International Airport