Local News
4:10 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

City Cancels Airport Solar Farm

The City of Charlotte has canceled its plan for an ambitious solar power project at Charlotte-Douglas airport, at least for now. Airport officials say new construction and old bonds make the project unfeasible.


Charlotte-Douglas officials found installing solar panels in parking lots--like these used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service--could jeopardize tax-exempt bonds.
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr

The city planned for solar panels to stretch across 128 acres of airport land, between runways and on the roofs of parking lots, generating 53 megawatts of power—enough to be one of the largest solar developments in the state. It garnered significant interest, drawing developers from around the country to a November meeting.

But the city quietly pulled the project last month, after airport officials expressed concerns about panels getting in the way of plans to rearrange the airfield and accommodate more flights.

“We are still interested in pursuing that at the right time,” says Jack Christine, CLT’s interim deputy aviation director. “But the priority has to be first for the airfield to operate as efficiently as we can. And we did not want to start down the process of installing a solar farm that may be in the way.”

The airport also found panels on parking lot roofs could run afoul of existing bond agreements. The airport would have to start paying taxes on bonds that are currently exempt. In its update cancelling the project, the city says it anticipates, but does not guarantee, trying again early next year.