Monday, February 23, 2009

The Sun Could Shine On Palmdale Airport Again

In an effort to displace some of the passenger load at Los Angeles International Airport, a plan was hatched to promote the use of regional airports in and around L.A. Burbank Airport (now "Bob Hope Airport") remains a perennial passenger favorite, and airports in places like Long Beach and Ontario have also become significant travle hubs. However, the mother of all white elephants has been the Palmdale Airport, in the high desert northeast of Los Angeles.

United Airlines tried to make a go of Palmdale operations, but recently pulled the plug and the Los Angeles World Airports Authority followed suit soon after, announcing that it would give up the facility's operating certificate, rendering it useless for commercial air travel.

Another recent policy boondoggle that has been in the news a lot lately is the controversail "Measure B" in Los Angeles which has been ram-roddded onto the ballot. Measure B, if passed, would require L.A. to get 40% of its power from renewable sources.

Palmdale Airport and Measure B seem to have been meant for each other as now there is talk of turning Palmdale Airport into a massive solar farm.

What is intriguing about the idea is that it could just work. Unlike other massive solar projects that are sited way out in the ultra-boondocks, this location is essentially within L.A., alleviating the need to build a long "Sunrise Powerlink" like transmission line.

The problem, though is a political one. Palmdale Airport was born out of eminent domain and the process was expressly for transporation. Using it for solar requires a host of approvals, from the County to possibly even the air force.