Latest Electrification Project at JFK Airport Completed

Oct. 2, 2019
As municipalities around the country pursue electrification, airports are increasingly coming into focus as candidates for microgrids. Here’s the latest on the JFK electrification project.

Electrification at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City continues, most recently at the JetBlue terminal.

The New York Power Authority, in partnership with JetBlue and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, completed the installation of 38 electric charging hubs at JetBlue’s terminal.

Construction and design work for the electrification project is being handled by AECOM. PosiCharge is the vendor for the charging stations.

The Jet Blue charging hubs — with their 118 charging ports — support JetBlue’s conversion of its fleet of 118 baggage tugs and belt loaders to electric power, reducing ground fuel usage by 200,000 gallons a year at JetBlue’s Terminal 5.

The JetBlue electrification project follows the 2017 announcement by Governor Cuomo, that Port Authority and JetBlue secured $4 million in funding from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) program to reduce emissions at JFK. The VALE grant, the Port Authority’s first, accounts for 75% of the total $5.3 million cost of the charging hubs. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) implemented the project and provided $200,000 in funding, with JetBlue providing an additional $1.1 million.

Electrification and solar

In October 2018, the port authority became the first public transportation agency to embrace the Paris Climate Agreement and commit to a plan to make steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. As part of that plan, JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty airports — all under port authority control — are moving toward all-electric shuttle bus fleets and a community solar project at JFK has been finalized in cooperation with NYPA.

In addition, the JFK Vision Plan, unveiled by Cuomo in January 2017, will see the construction of two new terminals, as well as improvements to roadways and transportation infrastructure, at the airport at a cost of about $10 billion.

Candidates for microgrids

The TWA hotel at JFK Airport operates an off-grid microgrid. Photo by 

As municipalities around the country pursue electrification, airports are increasingly coming into focus as candidates for microgrids. This spring, Carlyle Group and Schneider Electric formed, AlphaStruxure, a joint venture to pursue what they see as a $1 trillion underinvestment in US infrastructure and a fast-growing market for microgrids.

While there are no plans to include a microgrid in the recently announced JetBlue electrification program, one of the new terminals at JFK does include a microgrid. It is being designed to reduce energy consumption by about 30% and help move toward the goal of the airport using 100 percent renewable energy within the next decade.

There is another microgrid at JFK, but it is not part of the broader revamping of the airport’s infrastructure. The TWA terminal was designed by Eero Saarinen and quickly became recognizable worldwide for its swooping modern architecture. The terminal was closed in 2001, in part because it could not accommodate larger, modern planes, but it was given protected status as an historic landmark in 1994, preventing its destruction. Instead, it was turned  into a hotel, which has its own off-grid microgrid electric system, operated by Veolia.

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About the Author

Peter Maloney

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