Converting airport equipment to electric at Sea-Tac to save $2.8 million of fuel and 10,000 tons of emissions annually
Alaska Airline's new electric equipment
Tue 25 Mar 2014 – One of North America’s greenest airports, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has launched a $31 million project to provide nearly 600 electric charging stations for ground support equipment (GSE) such as baggage tugs, bag ramps and pushback vehicles. Converting the GSE to electric is projected to save around $2.8 million in airline fuel costs and 10,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Alaska Airlines is already switching 204 fossil fuel-powered vehicles to electric – 146 with Alaska and 58 with Horizon – and more airlines will join the programme later this year. A large part of the funding is coming from federal grants including from the US Department of Energy and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“This project provides the infrastructure for airlines to convert their vehicles from diesel to electric in Sea-Tac’s effort to become the first major airport in the US to provide charging stations at all gates,” said Courtney Gregoire, Co-President of the Port of Seattle Commission. “As many as 650 vehicles could eventually be covered by electric technology and make a huge difference to the airport’s carbon footprint.”
The port has installed bright yellow charging ‘corrals’ with smart, fast-charging plug-ins for vehicles to receive a full charge in less than four hours. The smart technology determines which vehicle needs the most charge and meters out the power. In the first phase of the project, 296 charging locations are being installed throughout concourses D and C and the north satellite, with the second phase covering the rest of the terminal by September to bring the total number of charging locations to 576.
“Switching from fossil fuels to electric-powered equipment not only benefits the environment by reducing carbon emissions and fuel use, but the transition is expected to save Alaska Air Group about $300,000 a year in fuel costs,” said Jeff Butler, Alaska Airlines’ Vice President of Airport Operations and Customer Service.
The FAA is contributing $3.5 million to the project, with the $5 million grant from the Department of Energy being channelled through the Western Washington Clean Cities Coalition. Part of the grant money is being used to help airlines fund the purchase of new electric vehicles.
“This project had a lot of moving parts,” commented Stephanie Meyn, Program Manager for Western Washington Clean Cities, a Seattle-based organisation that promotes the use of cleaner domestic fuels and efficient vehicles to the transportation industry. “We applaud the Port of Seattle and Alaska Airlines for their leadership, commitment and creative collaboration. They’ve helped create a successful model for other airports to achieve cleaner air, reduced reliance on petroleum and a healthier community.”
Added US Congressman Adam Smith: “The eGSE project here at Sea-Tac should serve as an example of how energy efficiency is not only good for the environment, but is also a smart financial investment.”