Vermont Airport Flies Into Solar

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Last week, the Burlington International Airport formally unveiled the 500 kW solar array atop its parking garage. Since the installation came online earlier this year, it has produced over 325,000 kWh of energy. This is the city’s 81st solar project. With this addition, Burlington now produces 1.8 MW of solar energy.

Many airports have recognized the benefit of utilizing their open spaces for solar installations. However, this solar garden is unique. It has been set alongside a green roof.  Gene Richards, the Burlington International Airport’s Director of Aviation, said, ““The airport is pleased to now have two co-existing rooftop gardens, one solar and one green…. We expanded the parking garage years ago with the intent of installing a solar array, and we are pleased to make this vision a reality. It is my hope that passengers, especially visitors from afar, will gaze down from their aircraft windows and one of their first impressions, in addition to our gorgeous lake and mountains, will be our rooftop solar garden, showing Vermont’s strong spirit of innovation and independence.”

Encore Redevelopment managed the project. The company’s Principal, Chad Farrell, said, “With every new solar panel raised, Vermont is lighting the path toward energy independence and environmental protection…. As a Burlington company, we are especially proud of working with the home team on such an important project. The Mayor’s vision for siting more solar power on underutilized City-owned property is the right approach and, once again, demonstrates Burlington’s passion for energy innovation.”

The airport partnered with the Burlington Electric Department to build the array. “This solar garden is another way Burlington Electric sources 100% of its power from renewable generation like solar, wind, water, and biomass,” said BED General Manager Neale Lunderville. “In addition to keeping our energy dollars local, this solar array was made in the USA by American workers, and assembled here in Vermont by Vermonters. We are creating local jobs, generating clean energy, reducing stress on the grid, and keeping rates low and stable for customers – all at the same time. Initiatives like this are the key to a sustainable energy future that can support a thriving economy.”

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger threw his support behind the project. “Burlington is proud to be a national leader in energy innovation,” he said. “Building community-scale solar has been one of the City’s key energy initiatives during the past three years. This solar array at BTV is the first major solar project constructed on City-owned property…. Burlington’s future burns brighter because today we are rising to the challenge of building non-polluting, locally-sourced renewable power.”