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Vote on 'Green Community Program' for MSP set for Monday

Updated: 08/15/2014 9:38 PM
Created: 08/15/2014 8:29 PM KSTP.com
By: Josh Rosenthal

A new energy savings program could be on its way to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. It's expected to cost millions of dollars, but airport officials say a line item budget doesn't exist.

The project is referred to as the "Green Community Program" in a packet of information compiled in advance of a Monday meeting, where the Metropolitan Airports Commission could vote to give the program the official green light. According to information within the packet, one of the project's goals is to reduce energy consumption. It would start in the terminal one parking garages, and would include - among other things - new LED lighting, solar panels on the blue and red ramps and new electrical vehicle parking stations.

"You pay the bill now, and then you recoup the benefit over years," is how John Abraham summed it up.

He's a mechanical engineering professor at the University of St. Thomas, and he focuses on energy issues. Even with limited information, he thinks the project makes a lot of sense, both energy-wise and economically.

“When you put these new energy technologies in, you pay up front," he explained, "but then each year you spend less on energy and maintenance, and so we expect that over about five years, your investment will be paid back."

Annette Meeks, the CEO of the Freedom Foundation and a former Metropolitan Council appointee to the Airports Commission, has a different take.

"I think what's so interesting is the lack of transparency," she said.

If this program is going to cost millions of dollars, Meeks wants to know exactly where each of those dollars would go.

 “I couldn't find any details other than there is a green communities program, and they're going to enter into an agreement on Monday," she said. "So when I see projects like this where there's not a lot of detail but a lot of money, you want to know some answers, and I couldn't find any answers on anything online."

An airport spokesperson declined to comment on this story. A message left for the chair of the Commission's Planning, Development and Environment Committee Friday afternoon was not immediately returned.

The "Green Community Program" is scheduled to be voted on by the full Metropolitan Airports Commission on Monday afternoon.

Photo: KSTP/File

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