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MAC Testing Wind Turbines, Electric Vehicle

The Metropolitan Airports Commission is trying to test the viability of using wind power to generate electricity and electric vehicles to reduce fuel costs and emissions at Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP).

MAC has installed 10 wind-powered electricity generators and bought an electric-powered utility vehicle. The pilot program will help determine whether the airport will expand use of such environmentally friendly tools.

“Changes in technology are creating positional opportunities for addressing environmental concerns in ways that also make sense from a financial and operation standpoint,” says Jeff Hamiel, MAC executive director. “We will monitor how well the wind-power generators and electric vehicle perform at MSP to determine whether they might play a bigger role in the airport’s future.”

Placement for the 1kw wind turbines, on the roof of airport Fire Station 1, was designed to maximize use of prevailing northwest winds. Each unit has five black fan blades and a shroud to protect the blades and turbines from snow, ice, birds or other obstacles. They are expected to produce an average of 10kw of electricity per hour. The turbines cost $94,000, total, and are expected to last 20 years.

The new Cushman Motors e-Ride exv2 electric utility vehicle uses no fossil fuels, emits no exhaust, operates quietly and can be powered for $202 a year; it cost $22,265 to buy. The 72-volt AC motor has a driving range of 45-55 miles per charge and will be used mainly by parking management staff; it will also be tested for other uses. It’s different from hybrids, in that it is powered solely by electricity.

“We continue to look for sustainable solutions to meet our airports’ operating needs,” Hamiel says. “Testing the potential of wind power and electric vehicles is part of an ongoing effort to explore cost-effective, environmentally sound alternatives in the development and operation of MAC airports.”