Wine Country Airport Installs Solar Canopy

Credit: Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport

Sonoma County, California, and solar energy developer ForeFront Power on Feb. 28 announced the completion of 963 kW of solar energy infrastructure at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS) and a separate county-owned building.

San Francisco-based ForeFront Power, a subsidiary of Japan’s Mitsui & Co. Ltd., installed an 884 kW solar canopy in the airport parking lot and a 79 kW rooftop solar array at the Sonoma County Fleet Operations Building in Santa Rosa, California. Sonoma County chose the company to develop, finance, and construct the solar energy portfolio through a power purchase agreement.

At STS, which is located in northern California wine country eight miles northwest of Santa Rosa, ForeFront Power installed a solar parking canopy comprising 2,010 solar modules that generate enough renewable electricity to offset 100% of the airport’s annual electrical demand. The solar array is adjacent to Vine Jet, which provides long-term hangar space, aircraft sales, private jet charter and aircraft management services for business aviation customers. 

Electrical utility PG&E’s Net Energy Metering provision allows the airport to “bank” any excess energy produced by the system during periods of extended sunshine. The airport can then tap these banked excess energy credits at night or on cloudy days, or whenever daily electricity demand exceeds the production by its solar energy system.

The airport and fleet operations building projects combined will generate 1.5 million kWh of renewable energy per year, offsetting 1,060 metric tons of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to removing 230 passenger vehicles from the road each year, the parties said.

“Anything we can do to move our community toward a regenerative future is a priority right now,” Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore said. “Our renewable energy portfolio is one part of Sonoma County’s ambitious sustainability plan to adapt and prepare our communities for climate change. We in Sonoma County are also proud to do our part in helping California and the U.S. reach their climate goals.”

Bill Carey

Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.