LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Solar panels have been installed at two Lexington fire stations as part of a long-term, renewable energy initiative.
Fire Station 7, on Tates Creek Road, and Fire Station 15, in Shillito Park, are well-suited for solar energy because both have southern exposures and the appropriate roof pitch, the department said.
Generally, fire stations are “energy intensive” because firefighters occupy them and use communication systems all of the time. In addition, fire apparatus exhaust systems, and other equipment require an above average amount of electricity.
“Finding new efficiencies is always a priority for our City. We constantly look for ways to do more through efficiencies and innovative approaches,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “Over the long-term, solar energy can be a good way to save money, while also protecting the environment. It’s good to see our Fire Department leading the way.”
“The fire department exists to serve the needs of the community, and part of that responsibility means being judicious with the resources we are offered,” said Fire Chief Jason Wells. “We are excited to be on the ground level of such an exciting initiative.”
The solar systems, which went live March 5, are expected to supply 30-40 percent of the energy required to power the stations.
The solar panels were funded by the City’s Energy Improvement Fund, which invested approximately $30,000 at each station.
James Bush, in the Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works, leads the City’s Energy Initiatives Section and managed the project.
“We’ve focused on energy efficiency for years,” Bush said. “Now we’re at a point where using solar panels to generate energy is a cost effective option to consider.”
Although solar energy isn’t new technology, it has become much more affordable in recent years, making this project possible. In addition to solar panels, the City is also conserving energy by using smarter controls in its buildings and converting thousands of lights to LEDs.
While the city has no immediate plans to install solar panels on other government buildings, Bush, working with the Council’s Environmental Quality and Public Works Committee, has identified other suitable sites and will use the data from the fire stations to inform future decisions regarding renewable energy.