seeing green

Houston airports land $12.5M for green projects, announce new EV fleet

Houston's airports are looking more and more green. Photo via fly2houston.org

Houston Airports will receive funding from The Federal Aviation Administration in the next few months on projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and implementing the administration's climate challenge guidance at its hubs.

The funds — about $12.5 million — come from the FAA's FY2022 Airport Improvement Program Supplemental Discretionary Grant Competition and are slated to be rolled-out by September 2024. Projects at George Bush Intercontinental and Hobby airports were among 79 projects around the country, which the FAA granted about $268 million to in total.

“Houston Airports is committed to reducing our environmental impact while also protecting the planet as we expand our global reach. These FAA grants fund our ability to invest in smart and sustainable solutions” Jim Szczesniak, COO for Houston Airports, said in a statement. “The end result of these projects will be a more resilient, efficient and sustainable airport system that aligns with the goal of Houston Airports to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.”

IAH received $10.3 million for two projects that will replace existing generators and fund an energy audit to find energy and water use efficiencies at the airport, as well as "define actionable steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the airfield and the airport's buildings," according to the statement.

Hobby received $2.1 million to also go towards an energy audit and to create a Resiliency Master Plan to help mitigate the impacts of climate change, severe weather and floods in a sustainable way.

Separate from the FAA funds, Houston airports also announced in recent weeks that it will add an all-electric fleet of vehicles for its six airport locations by the end of 2023.

According to a release from HAS, ground operations are a major source of the aviation industry's carbon footprint.

The fleet will include 25 Ford F-150 Lightnings, which can travel up to 320 miles on a full charge. HAS's maintenance team planned to install 11 Level 2 charging stations to support the fleet at its airports this summer.

These updates are all part of HAS's Sustainable Management Plan, which aims to get the system to carbon neutrality by 2030.

Earlier this year, Hertz Electrifies Houston, in partnership with bp pulse, announced that it would install a new EV fast-charging hub to Hobby Airport that's designed to serve ride-hail, taxi fleets and the general public. The initiative, which was formed by The Hertz Corp. and the City of Houston, also aimed to bring 2,100 rental electric vehicles to Houston.

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A View From HETI

Chinese officials told Tesla that Beijing has tentatively approved the automaker's plan to launch its “Full Self-Driving,” or FSD, software feature in the country. Photo via tesla.com

Shares of Tesla stock rallied Monday after the electric vehicle maker's CEO, Elon Musk, paid a surprise visit to Beijing over the weekend and reportedly won tentative approval for its driving software.

Musk met with a senior government official in the Chinese capital Sunday, just as the nation’s carmakers are showing off their latest electric vehicle models at the Beijing auto show.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Chinese officials told Tesla that Beijing has tentatively approved the automaker's plan to launch its “Full Self-Driving,” or FSD, software feature in the country.

Although it's called FSD, the software still requires human supervision. On Friday the U.S. government’s auto safety agency said it is investigating whether last year’s recall of Tesla’s Autopilot driving system did enough to make sure drivers pay attention to the road. Tesla has reported 20 more crashes involving Autopilot since the recall, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In afternoon trading, shares in Tesla Inc., which is based in Austin, Texas, surged to end Monday up more than 15% — its biggest one-day jump since February 2020. For the year to date, shares are still down 22%.

Tesla has been contending with its stock slide and slowing production. Last week, the company said its first-quarter net income plunged by more than half, but it touted a newer, cheaper car and a fully autonomous robotaxi as catalysts for future growth.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the news about the Chinese approval a “home run” for Tesla and maintained his “Outperform” rating on the stock.

“We note Tesla has stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai since 2021 as required by regulators in Beijing,” Ives wrote in a note to investors. “If Musk is able to obtain approval from Beijing to transfer data collected in China abroad this would be pivotal around the acceleration of training its algorithms for its autonomous technology globally.”

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