Sandy Beaches, Lobster Rolls and a Microgrid

Aug. 4, 2023
The Cape Cod Gateway Airport is looking to design a microgrid that will power everything from the airport’s operations and buses to its planes.

The Cape Cod Gateway Airport is looking to design a microgrid that will power everything from the airport’s operations and buses to its planes.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) recently announced a Request for Responses (RFR) for consulting services for the planning, permitting and design of a smart microgrid at Cape Cod Gateway Airport.

The RFR was issued by the Aeronautics Division of MassDOT, which is responsible for overseeing most of the state’s public-use airports and general aviation systems.

Funds from a $1.95 million grant MassDOT received from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Program will pay for the microgrid project.

Powering operations and EV charging

The goal of the smart microgrid project is to generate and provide clean and reliable electricity for the airport, as well as for the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, through the use of solar, wind, geothermal, hydrogen and other sources, according to the RFR.

In addition to powering airport lighting and navigation systems, the 35,000 square foot airport terminal and other support buildings, the microgrid will be required to power a significant electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The microgrid will support EV charging for the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, which plans to electrify its bus fleet, as well as personal electric vehicles, EV rental cars, transportation network carriers, ground support equipment, the airport’s maintenance fleet – and, one day, electric airplanes.

“Planning a robust infrastructure for the electrification of ground vehicles and aircraft at Cape Cod Gateway Airport provides a powerful clean energy transportation model for other airports in the Commonwealth and across the nation,” said Owen Silbaugh, Chief Engineer and Director of Airport Engineering at MassDOT Aeronautics, the Project Director for the SMART grant project.

A small airport with a big impact

Microgrids are not just reserved for large airports like John F. Kennedy International in New York or the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Smaller regional airports, like the Redwood Coast Airport in California, have reaped tremendous benefits from microgrids.

“Projects like this one at Cape Cod Gateway Airport highlight the Commonwealth’s commitment to moving us forward in ways that will support and sustain Cape communities that rely on our local transportation infrastructure for everything from supplies and goods to tourism,” said Congressman Bill Keating (D-MA 9th District).

Located in Hyannis, Massachusetts, the Cape Cod Gateway Airport is a 623-acre facility that provides more than 2,000 jobs to the local community and generates more than $200 million a year in direct and indirect benefits, according to airport officials.

The airport services flights from Jet Blue, Cape Air and Nantucket Airlines, as well as charter, corporate, and other general aviation operators.

Of note, Cape Air has already announced plans to electrify its fleet of small airplanes, which is currently dominated by Cessna 402s capable of carrying up to nine passengers and crew members. The company has signed a letter of intent for “75 all-electric 9-seater Eviation Alice aircraft,” according to its website.

This is the airport’s second microgrid

This will be the second microgrid installed on airport grounds. There is a solar microgrid already on site, but its power is leased to a third party and it does not support the airport.

"The climate crisis is the Commonwealth's greatest challenge, and innovative projects such as this at the airport in Hyannis will move us forward in reaching our greenhouse gas reduction goals while working toward creating a reliable, multimodal, and energy efficient transportation system," said Gina Fiandaca, MassDOT Secretary and CEO.

MassDOT plans to apply for additional grant funding of up to $15 million upon completion of this project. Those funds will be used to finalize the design and build the smart microgrid.

The RFR can be found here. The deadline for proposals is 5 p.m. EST on August 16.

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About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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