Here at PV Solar Report we have been following the controversy about PV systems interfering with firefighting efforts. We have reported about upgrades that UL and others are making to the systems to make them safer for firefighters. We have even reported on a fire station that has embraced solar for their own structure.
Now, another fire company has decided that the benefits of solar far outweigh the risks. The North County Fire Protection District in San Diego has announced that four stations and the Fleet Management Facility are installing solar systems that are expected to be operational by the end of the year.
Together, the systems will generate between 90% and 100% of the stations’ energy usage, saving the department a significant amount of money that can then go to more pressing needs. Greg Wilson, Battalion Chief for the NCFPD, states that going solar “will allow the District to reallocate several thousand taxpayer dollars monthly to project financing and other essential services.”
Going solar appears to be in line with the firefighter mission. Particularly in California, and other areas that experience drought conditions, the water that is used to fight fires can be a drain on the system. We have reported previously that solar power uses very little water in production and maintenance. This can then make more water available for the firefighters to use in putting out the blazes.
Mr. Wilson goes on to state that the project will promote “an environmentally responsible image in our community.”
The department will be working with Sullivan Solar Power to provide the installations. Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power, said, “North County Fire Protection District realizes that energy savings means saving money to put toward firefighting…. They are setting an example for the community as to what we all should be doing.”
The district expects to have the systems paid off in under seven years.
With all the advances in safety that have come about in recent months, partnered with the water conservation and financial savings PV systems provide, going solar should be seen as a win for fire departments everywhere. Hopefully more districts will realize this, and we will see more and more fire stations saving money and water with solar.