CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The switches have been flipped and the array of over 1,700 solar panels at Yeager Airport are running.

The multi-million project officially came to an end on Wednesday as airport officials, local leaders and the community gathered on top of Parking Garage A where the panels sit for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The 1,701 panels sitting on top of the long-term parking garage will be used to power all parking facilities at the airport. The solar panels’ power will be collected on the utility meter and then transferred to the power used on the terminal.

Mike McKechine is the President of Mountain View Solar, the company whose panels were used, and said at the ceremony that the panels will pay for themselves.

“The utility bill that you pay, provides power for the next month and month after that,” he said. “If you invest in the infrastructure that produces its own power, that monthly expense turns into an asset. That’s the quickest, easiest way to look at solar.”

$3.5 million in funding for the project came from a federal grant through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), nearly 90-percent. The other 10-percent of funding for the project came from state funding.

The project originated more than three years ago but was put on hold due to funding and other issues, according to former Yeager Airport Director Terry Sayre.

Dan Hill with Dan Hill Construction said the project was scheduled to be done earlier in the summer but they ran into issues as well with the FAA.

“Since we are at an airport and very close to the airport runway, all of these designs have to be approved by them and it takes time,” Hill told MetroNews.

“Believe it or not, they shut down the government when we were at the peak of our decision making so it delayed us a little while.”

The project will also add electric vehicle charging stations to the 2nd floor of Parking Garage A in the coming months.

The panels are expected to bring cost savings to the airport of more than $50,000 per year.

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