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Upper Cumberland Airport Exploring Solar Energy Options

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Upper Cumberland Airport Exploring Solar Energy Options

The Upper Cumberland Regional Airport is partnering with a consulting company to explore the financial benefits of utilizing solar power.

National energy services company McKinstry will review the site to see how much of the monthly electric bill can be offset utilizing solar power. The feasibility review will be done free or charge. Airport Manager Dean Selby said the board decided to move forward with the deal.

“I’ve known of a couple other airports, Smyrna Airport for instance, has a huge solar farm that does this, and they offset their electric bill with it, and it seems to be really working really well for them as I’ve had discussions with their airport management team,” Selby said. “They’ve been doing it for several years.”

The company will also be doing site surveys to see if solar panels can fit on the airport property and see if the location will produce enough power to be cost effective. It will also see if the panels can get access to the power grid to return power.

“Anytime we can do anything to save money that’s great, but if we can also do something that offsets the environmental impact of the amount of electricity that we use on the lighting and everything else on the airport, then that’s just a win for everyone,” Selby said.

The Upper Cumberland Regional Airport began this relationship with McKinstry as the company has been working with surrounding areas on similar projects.

“Somehow it came up that we might be interested in this, so they approached us,” Selby said. “This is a no cost survey. The good thing is we’re not putting anything out. This is going to be a free survey to see if this is a feasible route to go.”

Selby said if McKinstry finds that solar panels are a cost effective option, the next step would be to begin seeking grants to help fund the project.

“The grant process is pretty in depth no matter how you approach it,” Selby said. “It takes time with any of these grants to get them through. There’s a lot of paper work associated, sometimes a lot of strings attached, so we have to evaluate that to see if it’s illogical or not. Then, if there is a local match requirement the airport normally pays that. This is just the first step.”


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