Airport overhauling electrical system

ALBANY, Ga. -- The runway at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport has a "bright" future ahead of it, airport officials say, as they inch closer to finishing a series of complicated but cost-saving overhauls to the facility's electrical system, including swapping quartz bulbs for brighter -- and more energy efficient -- LEDs.

With utility bills climbing steadily over the past several years, Airport Director Yvette Aehle says that changing out the lighting should save money both in terms of cost and energy consumption.

"The FAA has just recently allowed them to be used on runways and they say the bulbs are cheaper to buy and use less energy than our current quartz bulbs," Aehle said.

The switchover is part of a major overhaul of the airport's electrical grid, which includes runway lights, repairing the airport's beacon lights and the electrical vault.

Airport officials are also installing a "Pilot Controlled Lighting System," which allows pilots to adjust the brightness of the lights on the runway on their approach, simply by keying their microphones.

"That should have some obvious cost savings because if the runways aren't being used, there is a 15-minute timeout so the lights will shut off until another pilot comes into the area and keys their mic," Aehle said. "That way, the lights aren't on all the time and we're not wasting energy."

Aehle said overhauling the electrical and lighting system is one of several planned steps to make the airport more energy efficient, which should save the taxpayers' money.

The new terminal design, she said, will incorporate high efficiency design elements and fixtures to minimize wasted energy.