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Solar Microgrid Provides Power for East Bay Fire Stations

By Media Office Staff

Three fire stations in Fremont are now prepared to keep emergency services flowing if the electricity grid shuts down. The technological advance was noted at a ribbon-cutting ceremony this month.

The trio of stations are equipped with solar panels linked to battery storage systems, a combination that operates as a microgrid because the power captured and stored creates a self-contained power grid.

The majority of funding for the demonstration project in the East Bay city came from the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, which funds energy innovation research.

Gridscape Solutions, a project partner that also provided funding, is deploying several microgrids at critical facilities. Gridscape said the Fremont project has prepared it to commercialize the technology for mass market adoption.

The microgrids at the fire stations provide a local distribution of electricity, enable the stations to operate during a power outage, and use clean energy resources. It is a trifecta of resiliency, emergency preparedness and sustainability, said Christina Briggs, Fremont’s economic development director.

Briggs said the project “was really a no brainer for the city to put its full force behind.”

The microgrids are designed to provide at least three hours of backup power during utility outage. During one test at one fire station, electric power from solar and battery storage was provided for about 13 hours.

The project will reap a range of benefits. The microgrids are expected to save Fremont more than $250,000 over 10 years in electricity costs. The project will also help the city achieve its climate goals since the microgrids will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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