Two Lexington fire stations are now running on solar power, at least partially. It’s part of a larger city-wide renewable energy initiative.
“For several years now our city leaders, our council members, our mayor have thought it was important to pursue different energy conservation initiatives,” Lexington Fire Captain Jessica Bowman said.
Those initiatives have been in the form of short-term payback projects like street lighting and traffic lights, and now in a long term payback project of solar panel energy.
“We are in them 24/7, 365, our fire stations are always occupied,” Capt. Bowman said. “We’re always using energy, there’s never really a downtime as there would be in other government buildings, so that was the reason the fire stations were considered a good source for the initial testing of these solar panels.”
The solar panels were installed at Fire Station No. 7 on Tates Creek Road and at Fire Station No. 15 in Shillito Park.
Each one cost about $30,000, money that came from the City’s Energy Improvement Fund.
Leaders expect the projects to pay for themselves in cost savings by year 10 or 11.
In one month of switching them on, Capt. Bowman said they’re already seeing an impact.
“The solar panels are intended to produce about 30-40 percent of the energy required by the fire stations, and we’re seeing both a push and a pull of energy at different times during the day” Capt. Bowman said. “So, when the stations are more energy intensive, we’re using all the solar energy that we’re making and we’re pulling more energy off the grid.”
The city chose the two stations based on a solar survey.
Bowman said there are other locations that were considered suitable for solar panels, but she said there are no immediate plans to install more.