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Medford airport will install solar panels

 Posted: 11:35 AM October 11, 2012

Electricity for the Medford airport's short- and long-term parking lot operations will soon be supplied by the sun's rays.

Airport officials said they plan to break ground Monday on a 15 kilowatt array of solar panels that will power the parking lot lights, ticket distributors and toll booths on the 7-acre, 1,000-car lot. The $100,000 project will be 80 percent paid for with a grant from Pacific Power's Blue Sky Block Program.

"We expect to have it operational by the end of November," airport director Bern Case said. "There are a lot of things the power will go for. It's just kind of a win all the way around."

A ground-breaking ceremony is at 1:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15.

This is the airport's first renewable energy project. The array will be installed on a 30-foot by 60-foot canopy over the three electric toll booths at the north end of the parking plaza.

"There'll be coverage now instead of having rainfall," Case said. "It also protects the people in the booths."

Case said he's unsure how much power is consumed by the parking lot's lights and machinery, but that it's significant, as the lot lights are left on constantly.

"It's a pretty good chunk," Case said. "That's like a major neighborhood out there."

It's not yet known how much money the airport might save with this solar power, but officials are already pushing for another array. If approved, more solar panels would be installed on canopies leading from the terminal's front doors to the parking lot. Officials expect to hear about approval by year's end.

"We're pretty optimistic if this goes well, we'll be able to expand," Case said. "We'll apply for additional opportunities."

— Ryan Pfeil

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