February 27, 2009

Solar Plant and not Airport in Palmdale

The L.A. Times has this article about a possible solar plant at Palmdale Airport. And so continues the saga of waste with Palmdale Airport. Los Angeles spent $100 million dollars in the 1970's to buy 17,750 of land. Much of this land was taken by eminent domain actions. And then the airport was never built. Much of the land sits fenced and vacant. So of the land is leased to farmers.

On March 3, Los Angeles residents are voting on Measure B. Measure B requires the city to produce 400 Megawatts of power clean energy by 2014. The solar plant at in Palmdale Airport would provide 25% of this power or 100 Megawatts.

After 30 years still no airport on the land purchased by Los Angeles.  

An air terminal was built at the adjacent Plant 42, and according to the times eight airlines have come and gone. It is not economical to operate the small air terminal at Palmdale when Burbank airport is less then an hour by car south. And LAX is one hour if one can use the car pool lane. Los Angeles is handing the certificate to operate in Palmdale back to the FAA.

My own employer will not pay for flights out of Palmdale unless they cost less then the price of a rental car back and forth to LAX plus the round trip airfare from LAX. The air fare from LAX is often 1/2 the cost of Burbank. 

When United Airlines was being subsidized to fly from Palmdale, the airline only flew to San Francisco. Thus it might require up to three flights to get where you needed to go. Generally we fly out to the east coast. So after three flights it is late at night before the destination is reached. By assumption was they only flew to Palmdale to obtain the Governments money and when that money stopped so did the flights.

So the question is what needs to be done next? Who would drive up from L.A. to fly from Palmdale  when they can go to LAX, Burbank, Long Beach or Ontario down the street instead. Folks in Antelope Valley are going to drive to L.A. for a lower airfare. Maybe the solar plant is the best option.



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