America's families aren't the only ones feeling the pinch of high fuel prices. Businesses and large facilities like airports with rising heating bills are seeing their bottom lines squeezed. Now, President Obama knows there's no silver bullet to bring gas prices down overnight, but we can help give families and enterprises options to reduce their dependence on imported foreign oil.
That's why, when the Portland International Jetport began constructing its $75 million terminal expansion, the Federal Aviation Administration was ready with support from its Voluntary Airport Low Emission (VALE) program.
With a $2.5 million VALE grant, the Jetport installed an innovative, geothermal heating and cooling system that will save the 137,000 square foot terminal more than 50,000 gallons of oil every year. That translates to savings of more than $200,000 per year and more than $8 million over the new system’s life.
The system will deliver comfortable temperatures to passengers and employees from 120 wells drilled 500 feet below the new employee parking lot. It works in winter and summer because, at that depth beneath the earth's surface, the water temperature is constant throughout the year.
Portland is the nation's first large terminal with such a system, and it's attracting a lot of attention from airport operators across the nation. "They are really blazing the trail," said Christa Fornarotto, the FAA's Associate Administrator for airports.
When President Obama challenged us to out-innovate and out-build our competitors, the Jetport's geothermal heating system is exactly the kind of project he had in mind. By embracing new, cleaner energy technologies, America can’t help but win the future.