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Impact of Tucson International Airport's solar panels, one year update

Posted at 7:08 PM, Jan 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-24 23:33:05-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Tucson International Airport (TUS) adopted using solar energy a year ago, in the hopes to save money and to leave a smaller carbon footprint. To date the system has generated 16.3 million kilowatt hours of energy and has saved the airport more than $800,000.

"Well, as you can imagine, the energy for an airport is rather high so anytime we can take advantage of savings, like the solar project, we're very excited. Its a win-win for both the TAA (Tucson Airport Authority) and the environment. And it minimizes our carbon footprint in the community," said Danette Bewley, the vice president of operations and COO at TUS.

The solar project's focus is powering the airport's terminals, a significant portion of the airport's power.

"So the Airport Authority has enjoyed about $35,000 a month in savings from both phase 1 and phase 2 of our solar project," said Bewley.

Phase 1 only included a section of the parking lot, while Phase 2 officially converted every overhang to hold solar panels. In total, 1,360 solar panels are generating energy and saving the airport money.

"When we're efficient, we can pass those saving along to our tenants, especially the airlines. And the low our costs are, the more attractive our airport is to airlines," said Bewley.

The airport's solar project has come to an end - stopping with the parking lot - but this is not the end of TUS's environmental projects.

"We're never done. We're always seeking new ways to improve and to save energy," said Bewley.

This $14 million project was funded by FAA grants, ADOT, and TAA funds.