Solar is heating up in San Diego this summer as five fire stations and one maintenance facility in The North County Fire Protection District (NCFPD) covert to solar, allowing the six facilities to meet and exceed their energy needs. Energy savings from the projects are expected to total over $65,000 annually and any extra power generated is returned to the grid. One of the fire stations is even utilizing the net metering-aggregation tariff with San Diego Gas & Electric, allowing the station to transfer its excess energy to electrical meters on nearby properties; in this case a local communications tower, meeting room, ballpark and a well pump.
“Our first five solar installations have exceeded performance guarantees in their first year and the savings from all six systems help stabilize our electricity rates,” said Greg Wilson, Battalion Chief for the NCFPD. “Our electricity bills were one of our largest expenditures, and solar was the ideal solution.” Money saved from the projects will allow the district to focus their energy on emergency preparedness and appropriate staffing resources.
The NCFPD serves 50,000 California residents in the communities of Fallbrook, Bonsall and Rainbow. The latest project reached completion this month in Bonsall with the installation of a 47.5 kilowatt (kW) array on its fire station’s rooftop and two carports. The array consists of 200 panels and 8 inverters, which has produced as much as 350 kilowatt hours per day since coming online. All six systems were installed by Sullivan Solar Power using US manufactured solar panels from Kyocera Korean company with US manufacturing.
“We are thrilled to help the District become energy independent and believe other fire stations can take inspiration from this model as they seek ways to reduce operating costs while continuing to provide an invaluable service to the community,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power. Tax dollars saved by going solar have prompted other public service agencies in San Diego to utilize green energy too.
The solar installations are also helpful for firefighters to gain firsthand knowledge of solar power systems since they can be a hazard during a fire. Since solar panels provide electricity when light hits them they prove to be a deadly shock hazard to firefighters. Companies are starting to consider this more in the manufacture and design of safer solar panels and systems, like allowing a panel to be turned off. In the mean time familiarizing firefighters with the technology can go a long way to helping them fight a fire when solar arrays are involved.Tweet