Executive Speeches - 2008
Excerpts from remarks of Roger B. Kelley, president and chief executive officer of the New York Power Authority, at an event marking the operation of electric ground support vehicles at Albany International Airport
February 7, 2008
Two of our nation’s biggest challenges are to cut our dependence on foreign oil and to fight the threat of global warming. With these vehicles that are out on the tarmac, we’re taking on both.
This initiative also vividly demonstrates New York State’s national leadership—under Governor Spitzer—in using new energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance energy security, lower fuel costs and support new “green collar” jobs.
The New York Power Authority is pleased to have provided a grant of nearly $200,000 for the Albany Airport Authority’s purchase of a computer-based rapid-charging system for the electric vehicles. You might call it poetic justice that the money comes from interest earned from Petroleum Overcharge Restitution funds—the proceeds of court settlements to compensate consumers for oil industry overcharges in the 1970s and ‘80s.
I’m also happy to note that this is our second electric ground support equipment project with our partners at Delta. In 2006, we teamed up with the airline and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in a 15-vehicle initiative at La Guardia Airport’s Marine Air Terminal. We co-funded the rapid battery chargers and helped Delta find additional funding.
These projects are in keeping with the Power Authority’s status as the leading utility in the Northeast in promoting the use of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles for various purposes.
With oil at close to $100 a barrel, I think we’re on the right track.
Here at the airport, the nine electric-powered baggage tugs and loaders that Delta has placed in service are significantly cleaner and less costly to maintain and operate than the diesel-fueled vehicles they replaced.
Keep in mind that ground support vehicles are heavily used on multiple shifts each day. It’s estimated that the emissions from the average baggage tug, or tractor, are the equivalent to those discharged by 46 automobiles.
The new baggage-handling vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 400 tons a year by displacing about 31,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually. They’re about 90 percent cleaner than the diesel-fueled vehicles, even when you account for the emissions from power plants that provide the electricity for recharging their batteries.
What’s more, the electricity is supplied at about one-quarter the cost of the diesel fuel.
The charging system’s high-speed capability is really the key to the new ground support vehicles’ effectiveness. The chargers are actually “smart” enough to sense which vehicles plugged into them are most in need of power.
The system—which can be easily expanded to provide additional charging bays—is outdoor-rated to function in the most extreme weather conditions—not that this is ever a concern here in Albany.
I should note that Albany International will also be testing hydrogen-fueled vehicles as part of an initiative being underwritten by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. So this airport, which also uses compressed natural-gas vehicles, is really distinguishing itself in use of clean new technologies.
As I indicated, the Power Authority sees airports as great places for environmentally positive activities.
Besides our two electric ground support projects with Delta, we’re working with NYSERDA on a similar initiative at Westchester County Airport.
Also with NYSERDA, we intend to install gate electrification technology at Stewart Airport in Newburgh to limit the idling of aircraft next to the terminal building. And we’re in the planning or discussion stages for other projects at various airports from Buffalo to Long Island. Our partners in securing financing for these projects include NYSERDA and the Federal Aviation Administration.
So what we’ve done with Delta and Albany International Airport could help show the way to other airport electrification projects throughout New York State. The Power Authority looks forward to being part of this exciting—and essential—effort.