Energy transfer: Solar panels eyed for Erie’s central firehouse –

Solar energy may quickly change into the first supply of electrical energy on the metropolis of Erie’s major firehouse.

Mayor Joe Schember’s administration is exploring a plan that will end result within the set up of greater than 200 electricity-generating solar panels on the roof of the Erie Central Fire Station, 208 W. twelfth St.

The transfer is a part of a long-term pledge by the town to advertise clear and cost-efficient energy and water use whereas additionally lowering transportation emissions. It may save the town greater than $7,000 a 12 months in electricity-related prices on the hearth station, metropolis officers mentioned.

“We think it’s viable and sustainable and could provide long-term costs savings, and we will look to do so at other buildings,” mentioned Chuck Zysk, the town’s public works director.

More:What Erie-area owners must find out about solar panels

Erie City Council on March 16 permitted a decision that lets metropolis officers transfer ahead with the venture. Renee Lamis, Schember’s chief of employees, mentioned metropolis officers hope to finish the venture earlier than the top of this 12 months. 

The design, building and set up of the solar panels and associated tools, together with a backup battery and power storage system, is anticipated to price about $250,000, based on metropolis officers.

The venture, which would come with roof repairs on the firehouse, can be totally funded by grant {dollars} and donations.

“We are hoping to be able to (eventually) supply 100% of the building’s electricity” through solar panels, mentioned Sarah Peelman, the town’s sustainability coordinator. “This could be one of the first public buildings in Pennsylvania to have this kind of system in place.”

Sarah Peelman, the city of Erie's sustainability coordinator.

The plan requires 225 solar panels to be put in on the hearth station, Peelman mentioned.

Justin Mason is the director of business and utility improvement for Solar Revolution, an Erie solar set up firm that’s consulting with the town on the fireplace station venture.

Mason mentioned 225 solar panels would generate about 91,000 watts of electrical energy yearly on the station, which at the very least matches the quantity of yearly electrical energy the station receives from Penelec.

The solar panel system would final for roughly 25 years, Mason mentioned.

“The system actually becomes profitable at year 16, then it saves the city out about $164,000 over the value of the remaining years when you take the rising cost of energy into account,” Mason mentioned. “You have to remember, your electric costs are going up every year.”

Peelman mentioned the town has already secured two grants for the venture: $25,000 from Penelec’s Sustainable Energy Fund and $24,375 through the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority’s Restart program.

PEDA funds various energy initiatives statewide. 

Peelman mentioned the town can also be pursuing a $200,000 sustainability grant/contribution from Green Mountain Energy’s Sun Club, the Houston-based renewable energy firm’s sustainability grant program. That contribution has but to be finalized.

Peelman mentioned the fireplace station is right for the venture.

“It has high visibility on that corner and there are no existing trees in the area to block the sun to the roof,” Peelman mentioned. “It is also an emergency center. With the battery system and on-site generator for clean energy there, the building could be used as a command center for other operations if power gets cut to other city buildings for some reason.”

Erie Bureau of Fire Chief Joe Walko agreed. Nearly 30 firefighters work on the central firehouse, which is home to 3 tower truck firms and the division’s deputy chiefs.

Erie Bureau of Fire Chief Joe Walko.

“If the firehouse can be self-sufficient without needing to use electrical power from Penelec, then that’s a good thing,” Walko mentioned.

The hearth station venture aligns with the town’s participation in Erie’s Emerging 2030 District, an initiative that goals to see property house owners all through the area cut back energy use, water consumption and transportation emissions by at the very least 50 p.c by the 12 months 2030.

Emerging 2030 District:Plan goals for energy, water, emissions effectivity

There are greater than 20 energetic 2030 districts throughout the U.S.  Partners in Erie’s Emerging 2030 District embody the City of Erie, Erie County authorities, UPMC Hamot, Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Sisters of St. Joseph,Emmaus Ministries, Erie City Mission,First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant and Mercyhurst University.

Erie’s Emerging 2030 District is affiliated with the Green Building Alliance, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit devoted to selling environmentally-friendly constructing and improvement.

Peelman mentioned that, as a part of its participation within the Emerging 2030 District, the town has pledged to considerably cut back energy prices at three public buildings/services by 2030.

Erie City Hall, 626 State St., and the town’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, at 68 Port Access Road on the east bayfront, are additionally being thought-about for energy-reduction initiatives, Peelman mentioned.

“If we can do this at more buildings over time, our savings will increase,” Peelman mentioned. “We can look into additional solar panels, more energy efficient LED lighting and things like that. That’s what’s cool about this.”

Contact Kevin Flowers at Follow him on Twitter at @ETNflowers.

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