Innovative Microgrid Plan for Pittsburgh International Airport

by admin on October 22, 2019

CNX plan for drilling/fracking at Pittsburgh’s Airport

Pittsburgh International Airport to Tap Marcellus Shale for Microgrid

From an Article by Jamison Cocklin, Natural Gas Intelligence, October 21, 2019

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIA) has awarded a 20-year contract to utility Peoples Natural Gas to build and operate a microgrid to power its entire campus.

The microgrid would be powered by Marcellus Shale wells on airport property that are operated by CNX Resources Corp., natural gas from the interstate pipeline system and solar panels that would be installed. It would be the first microgrid to power a major airport in the United States with resources available on site, according to PIA, which serves more than nine million passengers annually.

The microgrid would become the airport’s primary power supply and replace electricity purchased from the wholesale grid. A connection would still be maintained to back up the facility. The microgrid would consist of five natural gas-fired generators and 7,800 solar panels capable of producing more than 20 MW, or enough to power 13,000 residential homes. PIA’s current peak demand is 14 MW.

The system is expected to enter service in the summer of 2021 and power a hotel, the airport and a gasoline service station.

In 2013, the Allegheny County Airport Authority leased 9,200 acres at PIA to CNX, where the company planned to develop six pads and 45 Marcellus wells. Production started in 2016. CNX spokesman Brian Aiello said the plans for the property remain the same. He added that there are 14 producing wells at the airport in addition to another six drilled but uncompleted wells.

PIA officials, who have been considering the microgrid since last year, said it would come at no cost to the airport. Peoples is making the $30 million investment to build the facility. The utility, which serves 740,000 homes and businesses in Kentucky, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, has continued to explore various technologies for the natural gas it distributes. PIA officials said the microgrid would not only save money, but increase reliability and sustainability.

Distributed power developer IMG Energy Solutions, along with EIS Solar, which is to install the panels, and construction firm PJ Dick and LLI Engineering are also involved in the project.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Duane Nichols October 22, 2019 at 11:34 am


1. This is indeed innovative, and technical innovation is very much needed in this era of climate change.

2. The backbone activity here is natural gas combustion at distributed sites to produce electricity using relatively efficient gas turbines.

3. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants will be created to contaminate the residential neighborhoods, the region AND the EARTH.

4. More drilling and fracking in the Marcellus and Utica shales will result in many insults to the region. Consider water pollution, air pollution, truck traffic, noise and light pollution, methane flaring or escape, pipelining, etc.

5. A huge risk occurs because of the thousands of airline take offs and landings. Accidents do occur and airplanes can collide with natural gas drilling, fracking, production, processing equipment or pipelines. I cannot imagine the fire(s), explosions, injuries, and damages over a wide area.

NOTE: A coworker of mine was killed in an airline crash near the Pittsburgh Airport, another near the Raleigh-Durham Airport, and one of my supervisors and his wife died in an airliner crash in Kansas. A real estate agent we had died in an airliner crash off Long Island, NY. Often there are scarce remains if any of the individuals.


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