By James Herrera
Monterey >> If everything goes its way, the Monterey Regional Airport could be saving on its energy bills by the end of July.
The California Energy Commission in Sacramento on Wednesday is considering taking action on a request from the Monterey Peninsula Airport District to approve an agreement for a $3,000,000 loan, at one percent interest, for the Monterey Regional Airport Photovoltaic Project.
“Construction will be immediate,” said Mike La Pier, Monterey Regional Airport executive director. “The contractor is confident that if it is awarded (Wednesday), work can start on Monday and be completed by the end of July.”
Photovoltaic refers to the process of converting light, photons, to electricity through the use of solar panel cells.
The energy commission is also looking at the proposed resolution adopting California Environmental Quality Act Findings for Monterey Peninsula Airport District’s Monterey Regional Airport Photovoltaic Project and approving the agreement with the district.
La Pier said the installation of the solar panel array will not create any issues and is well away from the fencing that borders airport property.
“It’s about under three acres in size on the north side of the airport where the Navy Flying Club is,” said La Pier of the proposed array’s location.
The project is estimated to generate 1,450,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually and reduce the airport’s yearly utility expense by $183.643.
“For a sense of scope, airport utility bills are about $280,000 a year,” said La Pier.
The project will be fully funded by the Energy Commission loan with the simple payback on the loan and interest amount of $3,030,000 to be paid back over 16.3 years.
The annual loan repayment of about $186,000 will use some, if not all, of the savings realized from the use of the solar energy produced by the array, said La Pier.
In addition, the project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 500 tons annually.
“It will be a net positive for the airport and more than pay for itself,” said La Pier.
The goal is to save money, be more energy efficient and move power off the grid.
The airport executive director said other projects that reduce utilities consumption are being evaluated so that the Monterey Regional Airport can find “cleaner ways to do business.”