Archive for the ‘Steve’s State’ Category

Extraordinary Times for Renewable Energy!

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

by Steve Barrett

We are breathing rarified air these days thanks to renewable energy.  And the proof is in statistics. 

Get this:

  • 49% of all new electricity generation in the United States in 2012 came from renewable energy. 
  • 100% of new generation in January 2013 was from renewables!

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) releases a monthly report of new energy infrastructure that has been placed in service as well as an official compilation for each calendar year.  The updates include miles of new electric transmission lines, number of new hydropower projects, miles of natural gas pipelines, and MW of new electric power generation.  And airports are playing a significant role particular in solar power as evidenced by these projects that went into service over the past 13 months:

1)      3.6 MW Phase 2 Lakeland Regional Airport Solar Project expansion in Polk County, Florida. The Lakeland Regional Airport Solar has a total capacity of 6.3 MW.

2)      3 MW Pearson County Airport Solar Project in Timberlake North Carolina.  The amount of electricity being produced is equivalent to 360 households.

3)      3 MW Chicago-Rockford International Airport in Rockford, Illinois.   This is the first phase of what will be a 62 MW project that will produce enough power for 60,000 homes.

4)      FedEx developed a 3.6 MW project on its facilities at Newark Liberty International Airport which is providing 15% of its electricity needs.  See

Given the critical importance to our nation of the safety of air travel, the FAA is looking very closely at solar projects to make sure that they will not generate glare that might cause a negative impact on air traffic controllers and pilots.  HMMH provided reflectivity studies for the Chicago-Rockford and FedEx Projects, which otherwise would not have received the FAA’s approval.  We are also working with the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories on cutting edge research associated with solar glare under Airport Cooperative Research Project 02-38, Guidebook for Energy Projects’ Compatibility with Airports and Airspace.  As we accumulate knowledge about siting compatibility, expect to see more renewable energy projects at airports and across the country.

Solar Farm at Indianapolis International Airport

Monday, February 11th, 2013

by Steve Barrett

One of the largest solar farms at an airport in the world is being proposed at Indianapolis International Airport.  A recent news story publicized the project. The project, however, has been in the works for a few years and will likely be implemented in several phases.  Recent news is primarily related to the start of construction on Phase I which is proposed in the southwest area of the airport near the I-70 interchange.  In the summer of 2010 when the Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) was considering the solar opportunity presented by the local utility and private developers, IAA engaged HMMH to assess the potential impacts of the proposed project on airspace safety.  HMMH completed a study of reflectivity, communications systems interference, and physical obstruction with Part 77 surfaces.  Due to the project’s location southwest of the air traffic control tower, no glare impacts were predicted.  Based in part on our analysis, IAA proceeded with a procurement process to select a private developer who would lease airport land and own and operate the solar farm.  HMMH was also engaged by the project developer to conduct a more detailed analysis on impacts from a modified design on both the control tower and arriving aircraft.  The IAA filed a Form 7460 with the FAA and FAA issued a determination of no hazard in the summer of 2012.  HMMH has subsequently been engaged by IAA to evaluate the Phase II location.  The Indianapolis Airport Solar Farm is a great example of the potential financial benefits available to airports in leasing underutilized lands for renewable energy development.


Chicago Rockford International Airport

Chicago Rockford International Airport Solar Farm


HMMH Starts Work on Energy Siting Guidebook for the Aviation Industry

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

by Steve Barrett

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has officially announced the selection of the HMMH Team to prepare “Guidebook for Energy Projects Compatibility with Airports and Airspace.”   The objective of this research is to produce a guidebook supported by empirical evidence that provides best practices for aviation safety associated with planning, developing and constructing energy production and transmission technologies at and around airports.

The project is funded under the NAS Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) and sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration.  The ACRP is an industry-driven, applied research program that develops near-term, practical solutions to problems faced by airport operators.  HMMH has undertaken several other ACRP research projects associated with aviation noise issues.

The Guidebook will review information on energy and airports including issues associated with solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power, wind energy, power plant stacks and cooling towers, electric transmission lines, and oil and gas drilling.  Potential impacts include physical obstruction, glint and glare, radar interference, and thermal plumes.  The Guidebook will rely on existing experience like solar PV projects at Manchester, Indianapolis, and Fresno, and oil/gas drilling operations at Elmira-Corning, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Denver.

HMMH will be working with experts in the energy field.  The Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories will evaluate solar glint and glare.  Bryan Miller, former Department of Defense Liaison to the White House, will review wind energy and radar issues.  Professor Yu Zhang from the University of South Florida will contribute knowledge about existing and future air traffic operations.  And Mary Vigilante of Synergy will provide oversight on airport operational issues.  The Guidebook will be delivered to the ACRP in the fall of 2013.  I look forward to managing this project and advancing the state of practice for enhanced energy project siting.

AAAE Energy Forum Recap

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

by Steve Barrett

The AAAE Energy Forum convened last week in sunny West Palm Beach, Florida.  The Forum was last held in Seattle in February of 2010 and several of the participants from that event, including me, worked on the organizing committee for this year’s forum.  The group expects the program to become an annual event with February in Florida acting as a great draw.

Energy Efficiency Forum Postcard

Besides the inviting weather, energy is a topic of great interest in the aviation community given escalating costs and innovative solutions.  The conference attracted 80 professionals with diverse expertise including airport staff, solar energy developers, energy and environmental consultants, airport planners, architects, engineers, utilities, and financial institutions.  Airports represented included Palm Beach, Orlando, Lee County, Metro Washington Airport Authority (MWAA), Minneapolis-St. Paul, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), Dallas-Fort Worth, Jackson Hole, Toronto, and Cold Lake Alberta.

I moderated the first two panels covering renewable energy topics.  I also made two separate presentations: “Technical Guidance for Evaluating Selected Solar Technologies at Airport [aka The Solar Guide]” and “Can Wind Energy and Aviation Be Compatible?”  Other renewable energy topics covered in presentations included solar development by airports and private lease holders, geothermal, and fuel cells.  There was a significant amount of programming on energy efficiency measures including the diversity of equipment replacement actions that can be taken, from light bulbs to heating and cooling systems, and quick payback periods.  An FAA representative summarized funding possibilities under the Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) Program and action by Congress just two weeks ago under the FAA Reauthorization allowing Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds to be used for energy efficiency-related upgrades.  The second day’s lunch speaker from “Space Florida” spoke about NASA’s plans for supporting a growing commercial spaceflight business including issuing contracts to private companies to ferry payload and passengers to the International Space Station over the next few years.

As energy issues continue to impact all aspects of commerce and quality of life, the AAAE Energy Forum is expected to become the aviation industry’s prime conference for discussing energy challenges and opportunities.  The committee has already started planning for next year’s event.

Presentations are posted on HMMH’s website.

I’m All for Alternative Energy, But Will it Impact My Airport?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

by Steve Barrett

HMMH provides answers in ACRP Report.

Growing demand for electricity and the transition to new technologies is pushing energy projects in new geographical areas.  Proposals for wind farms and solar plants are getting the attention of  aviation professionals who see projects proposed near their airports and are concerned that the projects will impact pilot safety and airport operations.  To gather more information on the pertinent issues, the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) funded a Synthesis Report, and I was selected as the Principal Investigator for the study.  The Report, Investigating Safety Impacts of Energy Technologies on Airports and Aviation, was released by the ACRP on October 15.

The study looks into the potential impacts of wind farms, solar panels and concentrated solar power plants, and traditional natural gas plants on airports and aviation.  Types of impacts evaluated include solar glare, radar interference, thermal plumes from emission stacks, and penetration of structures into airspace.  The report reviews specific project proposals including the proposed Shepherd Flats Wind Farm in Oregon’s Columbia River Valley and the Blythe Concentrated Solar Plant in the desert of Southeastern California. 

The Synthesis Report, combined with the Solar Guide prepared by HMMH and released by the FAA in November 2010, provides a substantial amount of information on the subject of alternative energy and airports.  ACRP has announced a follow-up Project to develop a Guidebook for energy and aviation professionals that will contain more detailed information including new analyses of specific projects.  HMMH, as a leader in the field of alternative energy and airports, will continue to track these developments closely.

Investigating Safety Impacts of Energy Technologies on Airports and Aviation