Largest solar generation site in Minnesota launches at MSP Airport

Just 13 months after start of construction, the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) – owner and operator of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) – has flipped the switch on what is currently the largest solar generation facility in Minnesota.

Located atop two parking ramps at MSP’s Terminal 1-Lindbergh, the facility will provide up to 20 percent of the terminal complex's energy needs when operating at peak capacity. 

The project included installing more than 8,700 solar panels on a structure 8 feet 6 inches above the top of two parking decks (Red and Blue ramps). 

“We wanted to build something iconic - something substantial that would have a significant impact not only on our bottom line but in reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to the airport’s reduced use of carbon-based fuel sources,” said Dennis Probst, executive vice president for the MAC.

To further both dollar and greenhouse gas emissions savings, the project also included replacing more than 7,700 metal halide lights with energy efficient LED technology in all four parking ramps at Terminal 1. 

In all, the project will eliminate the equivalent of 6,813 metric tons of greenhouse gasses each year. 

Travelers who park on the top level of either the red or blue ramp will certainly notice the structures. While they don’t constitute covered parking, the arrays do help shield parked vehicles from the hot sun.

Ameresco, a leading alternative energy company in the United States, led the development and construction efforts, hiring local contractors who provided more than 250 workers to complete the job. Ameresco will also operate the system for the MAC.

The $25.4 million project was funded through low-interest Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds, a $2.1 million grant from Xcel Energy and $100,000 from the MAC’s operating budget.

Get an up close view of the system here:

Updated Lake Elmo Airport Draft LTCP approved for public comment

The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) board on Monday, December 21, approved for publication a revised preferred alternative for the draft 2035 Long Term Comprehensive Plan (LTCP) for the Lake Elmo Airport.

A 30-day public comment period will commence in mid-January 2016.

Lake Elmo Airport is owned by the MAC and is located on the east side of the metropolitan area. It provides airfield facilities for approximately 25,000 general aviation operations each year.

A draft document was published for public comment in June 2015. Based on comments received, MAC staff revised the preferred development alternative and presented it to the board on the 21st. 

The revised alternative addresses a concern regarding the realignment of 30th Street North, located on the south side of the airport, by reducing by 100 feet the proposed length of Runway 14/32 (from 3600 to 3500) when compared with the original preferred alternative. The shorter runway allows the intersection of 30th Street North and Neal Avenue to remain in the same location as today - one of the main concerns expressed during the comment period.

The revised alternative also brings the runway closer to its current location.

To view a comparison between the original and revised preferred alternative, visit the MAC's Web site. Or, watch the board meeting proceedings. 

MAC Executive Director/CEO recruiting process underway

Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) Executive Director/CEO Jeff Hamiel will retire in May 2016 after 31 years in that role, and the search for his replacement is underway.

The MAC hired SpencerStuart, an executive search firm with extensive experience identifying top talent for airports, to lead the effort. The firm has helped airports in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles and many other cities with their CEO searches. Michael Bell, the principle recruiter for the MAC’s CEO position, met with dozens of leaders at the MAC, in the airport community, and throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area to solicit their input on the characteristics needed in a new MAC CEO. He then used that input to develop a candidate specification for the position, which was posted on November 24. Among the many characteristics for which Spencer Stuart will be searching are ethical integrity, a sound knowledge of the regulations governing airports, strong networking and community outreach skills, and executive leadership experience, preferably in the aviation industry though candidates from outside the industry will also be considered.

SpencerStuart has used its experience elsewhere to develop a recruitment and selection process that aims to attract the largest number of highly qualified candidates possible. Once eligible candidates are identified, their qualifications will be reviewed by a five-member blue-ribbon panel. That panel consists of the following members:

  • Dan Boivin, Metropolitan Airports Commission Chair
  • Bonnie Carlson, President and CEO of the Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Archie Givens, President and CEO of the Legacy Management and Development Corporation
  • Ann Mulholland, Vice President of Community Impact for Minnesota Philanthropy Partners
  • Charlie Zelle, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation

The panel will assist in reviewing credentials, conducting initial applicant interviews, and hopefully by the end of January, recommending two-to-four top candidates for consideration by the MAC board’s Executive Committee. The names of the finalists selected by the panel will then become public, as the candidates move forward in the process, toward review and interviews by the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee consists of Chairman Boivin and four commissioners:

  • Vice Chair Lisa Peilen
  • Planning, Development and Environment Committee Chair Steve Cramer
  • Finance and Administration Committee Chair Tim Geisler
  • Management and Operations Committee Chair Rick King

The committee’s job will be to narrow the field still further – and to recommend one or two candidates for consideration and a vote by the MAC board as a whole in February or March 2016. The goal is to have a new Executive Director/CEO in place some weeks before Jeff Hamiel retires to help ensure an orderly transition.

Public hearing date set for a proposed ordinance of Transportation Network Companies operating at MSP

On Monday, January 4, 2016, the Metropolitan Airports Commission will hold a public hearing to take verbal and written testimony relative to a proposed ordinance for regulating Transportation Network Companies (TNC)* operating at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. 
The public hearing will take place at a Special Management and Operations Committee meeting set for 6 p.m. at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott Hotel (2020 American Boulevard East, Bloomington, MN 55425). 
*TNCs are commercial operators that use an online-enabled platform to connect passengers with drivers who use their personal, non-commercial vehicles to transport those passengers to their requested destination. Examples include Lyft, Uber X.

Standard and Poor raises MSP's subordinate airport revenue bond rating from A to A+

In a news release dated December 17, 2015, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services announced it had raised its long-term rating and underlying rating (SPUR) to 'A+' from 'A' on the Metropolitan Airports Commission's (MAC) subordinate airport revenue bonds, issued for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). In addition, Standard & Poor's affirmed its 'AA-' long-term rating and underlying rating (SPUR) on the MAC's senior-lien bonds outstanding. The outlook on all ratings is stable.
The press release states that the ratings are based on S&P's view of the "solid air trade area economy, as well as the airport's reasonable cost structure, stable financial performance, and limited debt plans; these factors are partially offset by the airport's market share concentration in Delta Air Lines."