New Solar Battery Storage System at Portland Fire Station 1 Fuels Emergency Resiliency (Photo)

Portland Fire and Rescue
Portland Fire and Rescue

December 16, 2019 11:15


Portland’s first renewable, resilient power project installed at an emergency response facility has gone online at Fire Station 1, the result of a partner project between The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) and Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R). In 2016, BPS applied for and received a $89,959 grant from the Portland General Electric’s 2016 Renewable Development Fund, and an additional $25,000 PGE Research and Development grant to collaborate with PF&R on installing Oregon’s first renewable microgrid on a fire station.

The vanguard project includes a 30 kW solar electric system, a commercial-sized battery, and an existing onsite generator. These three components allow the site to generate and store power from multiple sources in the event of a prolonged power outage. Since this was a frontrunner installation, BPS and PF&R worked tirelessly with a variety of partners over the past four years to work out the kinks of setting up a leading-edge system that uses sustainable energy in emergency response scenarios. The 30 kW / 60 kWh lithium-ion battery storage system allows the solar system to continue to power the building during an extended outage. The system stores excess solar for use at night making it possible for the fire station to use solar energy to power preselected critical loads indefinitely. You can now monitor the system’s output and usage from a screen in the building’s lobby,

“I want to thank our Facilities Manager Shawn Roberti and former Logistics Captain Tom Walsh on their incredible dedication to this project, as well as the crews at Station 1 who helped support the facilitation of this installation over multiple years,” says PF&R Chief Sara Boone. “PF&R takes the lead in emergency response and this installation allows us to use solar power to generate energy in the event of an extended outage for one of our most critical buildings.”

As more photovoltaic and energy storage systems come online, the importance of training first responders how to use these types of systems will continue to grow. The Fire Station 1 installation will help others in the firefighting and emergency response communities learn how to design and use solar-plus-storage installations.

“We need to be innovative in our energy approaches to make sure we are able to fuel our responses now and in the future. The addition of this solar-plus-battery system at Station 1 serves as a training opportunity involving a technology that is growing in the region and is a much-needed ingredient for our City’s sustainability efforts,” says Fire Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “This is a great example of what we can accomplish by partnering across bureaus for innovative solutions.”

This system also creates a testing ground for similar installations at other City facilities. The battery storage system and controls installed at Fire Station 1 are also able to respond to signals from the utility (Portland General Electric) to provide additional demand response energy services to the grid. This  allows the battery to earn an additional value stream beyond the energy savings of the solar. Additional value streams would help the City, and other energy customers, to offset the cost of the battery. This pilot project will help test the potential for microgrids on City facilities to provide both resilience and energy services to the utility.

“The solar and battery installation at Fire Station 1 is a wonderful example of Portland’s climate leadership and innovation,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Tackling the climate crisis is going to require a broad coalition of partners and I want to thank BPS, PF&R and PGE for their effort to realize this project which reflects the need to prepare for climate impacts as we work to reduce emissions.”

This project would have not been possible without the collaboration of the following partners: Portland Fire and Rescue, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Portland General Electric, Energy Trust of Oregon, EC Company, and vendors Ageto, Ideal Power Systems and EnergPort.

Drone footage and rooftop panel photography by EC Company.

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