Powering the Future: Pittsburgh International Airport Unveils First-of-Its-Kind Microgrid to Power Entire Facility

Oct. 21, 2019
New PIT microgrid to keep power flowing 24/7 starting in 2021, fueled by on-site natural gas and solar energy.

Pittsburgh International Airport is redefining how airports of the future will be powered.

For the first time in the U.S., a major airport will be completely powered by its own microgrid with the use of its own on-site natural gas wells and solar panels. The first-of-its kind model will increase reliability and public safety while achieving savings on electricity costs for the airport and tenants.

Airports across the country have been exploring ways to increase power reliability after several high-profile power outages resulted in thousands of cancelled flights and passenger disruptions. As PIT works to build the smartest airport in the world, creating smart power infrastructure is a key step that can serve as a blueprint for others.

“My congratulations to the Airport Authority board and staff for taking this important step forward to ensure that our airport is both sustainable and resilient,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “As an economic generator in our community, the airport’s ability to support our community and its businesses is absolutely imperative and today’s action ensures that we have the tools to be self-reliant and self-sufficient at this facility.”

The power generated at PIT will become the primary supply for the entire airport, including the airfield, Hyatt hotel and Sunoco. The airport will remain connected to the traditional electrical grid as an option for emergency or backup power when needed such as extreme weather events or other grid interruptions. The microgrid will generate power, in part, through onsite natural gas wells and approximately 7,800 solar panels across eight acres.

“Part of our mission is to be a world leader in aviation innovation and this project is about powering airports into the future,” said Pittsburgh International Airport CEO Christina Cassotis. “This project will bring power resiliency and redundancy to enhance safety and ensure continued operations for the traveling public.”

The Allegheny County Airport Authority Board of Directors awarded Peoples Natural Gas a 20-year contract to build, maintain and operate the microgrid at no cost to the airport. It is expected to be online by summer 2021.

“The airport is a critical asset for our region that is recreating itself with innovative solutions using the latest in technology and equipment to better serve all of us. We’re proud that Peoples is the airport’s chosen partner to provide a forward thinking energy solution for significantly cleaner, more sustainable and less expensive energy,” said Morgan O’Brien, president and CEO of Peoples. “It sends a strong message that if you are an innovative company, Pittsburgh is a great place to do business.”