Three reasons why creating an electrical master plan for your airport is the right call

As airports take on the challenges of meeting demand and ensuring resiliency, electrical master planning provides direction.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about airports’ electrical resiliency.

The findings of the 2023 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, “Selected Airports’ Efforts to Enhance Electrical Resilience,” released at the end of August, are no surprise: “40 of the 41 airports the GAO interviewed reported planning or completing an infrastructure project to increase electrical power resilience.”

Airports across the country are prioritizing the assessment of their electrical infrastructure. They’re scheduling projects to improve it. They’re acquiring equipment that can provide more backup power. These efforts come as the negative effects of power outages, like the outage at JFK International Airport in February 2023, raise consciousness of the crucial importance of reliable electrical power systems.

Preventing loss of power and meeting the increasing demand for power are widespread challenges. What’s the best way for your airport to tackle them? Which resiliency projects make the most sense? When should you do them? Does it make sense to install a microgrid? An Electrical Master Plan (EMP) will help you answer these questions and more.

An EMP is a straightforward service that can be done any time and independently of other planning or project efforts. Even if you’ve just completed your airport Master Plan, or you’ve started some EV work, for example, ordering an overall assessment of your airport’s electrical infrastructure and having a projection of your electrical needs for the next five, 10, or 15 years is a good investment.

Here are three reasons why an EMP is a practical, proactive step towards resiliency.

1. An EMP provides an airport with a more comprehensive picture of coming opportunity

With an EMP, you can determine a logical, cost-effective path to improvements. If you know what upgrades can be done or are needed ahead of time, you can work them into any upcoming terminal, landside, or other airfield improvement project.

If, for example, a taxiway is going to be under construction for six months and the airport’s main electrical feeder passes underneath that taxiway, it’s much cheaper and less disruptive to do work on or add to that electrical infrastructure during the construction phase.

Seeing the whole picture - of needed and possible upgrades to electrical infrastructure and of future projects - allows you to stay on track and make improvements when it makes the most sense to do so.

2. An EMP helps you determine which funding opportunities to pursue

Now is a great time to pursue funding, as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has new and expanded grants available for resilience projects. When you’re armed with an EMP, and know where you’re going in terms of improvements to electrical infrastructure, it’s easier to shape the narrative necessary for these grants. In this way, the EMP makes your grant application more competitive and gives you an advantage when seeking available funding.

3. An EMP helps you anticipate and prepare for the future

With an EMP, you can prepare your airport for long-term sustainability and energy sources such as solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicle charging stations. In addition to helping you identify ways to make your airport adaptable over time, an EMP helps you ensure resiliency in the face of increasing demand.

It also helps you ensure safety. Wind turbines, for example, can obstruct air space and disrupt radar systems. An EMP can establish safe distances for wind turbine installation and operations. This can be especially helpful if outside groups want to place wind turbines near your airport, and Garver is well-positioned to act as an intermediary with such groups.

Garver provides comprehensive EMP services

Whether your goal is to bolster resiliency or lay the foundations for future technology, an EMP is an invaluable tool. As an all-service Aviation firm with deep electrical expertise, including a dedicated Electrical Resiliency and Illumination Team, Garver is uniquely positioned to deliver EMP services.

Our electrical design services complement our EMP approach. We’re able to provide an EMP with a holistic view, thanks to our combination of specialized team members, including funding coordinators, pilots, electrical engineers, and LEED green building experts with airside and landside experience. We implement the most energy efficient equipment and infrastructure possible, at the same time ensuring that that equipment and infrastructure deliver top performance.

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