Medford airport eyes second solar power array

Following installation in October of a 15-kilowatt array of solar panels over the Medford airport's electric toll booths, airport officials are moving forward with plans to build a second, larger set.

The new 25-kilowatt array will be installed over the airport entrance and extend out to the parking lot's flag plaza, said airport spokeswoman Kim Stearns. Airport officials said they hope to wrap up construction by year's end.

"That's our goal," Stearns said. "We're still in the deliberation phase of how we're going to move forward."

The estimated $251,000 project will be funded in part by a $170,000 grant from Pacific Power's Blue Sky Block Program. The airport will pay for any leftover costs. Unused power generated from the second array will go back into the Pacific Power grid.

Ashland-based True South Solar installed the first array. The company reported the system will reduce the airport's carbon footprint by 372 tons of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. That is equivalent to reducing the amount of driving by 652,000 miles or planting nearly 8,000 trees.

True South general manager and principal owner Eric Hansen said the panels have a 25-year warranty but are engineered to last 50 years or more.

"It's an incredibly stable technology," Hansen said. "Our grandkids are going to be benefiting from those panels."

The 15-kilowatt panels use the sun's rays to generate power for the airport's parking-lot lights, ticket distributors and toll booths. The 7-acre lot has a 1,000-car capacity.

"Installation on that structure went very smoothly," Stearns said. "Traffic wasn't impeded."

Airport officials said it is too early to conduct an analysis on energy savings, but a tracker for kilowatt-hours generated daily by the first array can be viewed online at

The airport plans to install additional panels at a property near Corona Avenue in Medford, though it's not known when.

"There are a lot of restrictions in that area; we'd have to meet with the (Federal Aviation Administration). That may be on the radar in the future," Stearns said. "It's still kind of new territory."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or

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