Joined by several other experts from across the aviation industry, a senior executive from the Allegheny County Airport Authority spoke to members of Congress on May 17 about sustainability efforts at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Paul Hoback, Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer, testified remotely to the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation during a hearing centered on addressing climate change at airports.
“We know that the industry, like so many, needs to change,” he said in his opening statement. “And at Pittsburgh International we are leading the way through both broad and focused efforts.”
Chaired by Rep. Rick Larsen of Washington, and with committee chair Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon in attendance, the focus of the discussion was on innovative sustainability efforts in the industry and what the government can do to encourage and facilitate them.
Other witnesses included Ann Ardizzone, vice president, supply chain, of Alaska Airlines; Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA); and John Plaza, president and CEO of SkyNRG Americas, among others.
Hoback’s testimony highlighted PIT efforts that include the first-of-its kind microgrid that generates all the electricity the airport needs, apiaries that help rebuild the honeybee population and the $1.4 billion Terminal Modernization Program that will deliver long-term energy efficiencies and reduced environmental impact.
Several members were interested in PIT’s approach to energy resiliency and asked Hoback for more details on its unique microgrid.
“What you’re doing with the microgrid is amazing—not just powering airport operations, but a hotel and gas station. You’re producing energy on-site to cover your own energy needs,” said Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, ranking member of the subcommittee.
Rep. Troy Balderson of Ohio, whose district lies just on the other side of the state line with Pennsylvania, wanted to know if the project could be replicated.
“Is it feasible? Is the implementation of a self-sufficient power grid something all commercial airports should consider?” Rep. Troy Balderson of Ohio asked Hoback.
“We absolutely believe that it is feasible,” Hoback said. “It would be a great addition … especially for those airports that have less-resilient power grids for them to take control of their own destiny by putting in something like the microgrid.”