County airport to make lighting changes to conserve energy

Looking to the future, the manager of the county airport says they are working to improve energy conservation as a way to routinely save money.
Neil Armstrong Airport Manager Sean Stroh said based on a recent analysis by an outside company they are planning to begin phasing in some of those changes during 2012. The energy conservation measures are focused on lighting at the facility outside of New Knoxville.
“It would reduce operating expenses,” Stroh said of savings expected to be achieved through the measures once they are in place.
Due to budgetary constraints, Stroh said they are prioritizing what areas to do first in what is expected to become a three- to four-year project.
“We’re not able to do it all now,” Stroh said.
With a total of nine items on a list slated for improvements, he said they would begin with areas which get the most use and then move onto items of less priority on his list .
First on the list of improvements to be made is external lighting in high use areas, where lights burn all the time, Stroh said.
Next would be maintenance areas occupied between eight and 10 hours a day.
“If we did everything now, the project would pay for itself in two to three years,” Stroh said.
Total costs to fund the project were estimated at $38,000 by Perfection Group, which performed the energy savings analysis.
Airport operating funds are to pay for the different phases of energy upgrades.
“We always try to look at ways to decrease operating costs and keep revenue rates,” Stroh said. “Eventually we will have to raise hanger rates, but we want to minimize any increase and think we can do that by increasing energy efficiency for lower utility bills.
“It’s value-added for the customer and a long-term investment for us,” he said.
Within the last week, one energy savings plan already was instituted at the airport with runway lights operated by a pilot-controlled timing system.
At dusk, the lights come on and then stay on until 10 p.m., during which peak night time activity at the airport occurs. Then from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. the runway lights switch to standby mode before coming back on at 6 a.m. and burning until dawn.
The lights would not come on unless needed during the six to eight hours a day when they are used the least.
“We don’t know what the savings will be yet, but we expect to see them,” Stroh said.