Firehouse goes solar

The city will use a $100,000 federal grant to install solar panels on public buildings, including Loring Park's Fire Station 6, 121 E. 15th St.

The station serves Southwest neighborhoods of Stevens Square, Lowry Hill and, north of 22nd street, Whittier and the Wedge.

Guy Fischer, city Environmental Services staff, said Station 6 was chosen in part because of its visibility. The city applied for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's grant to educate the public about renewable energy, jumpstart participation in the state's solar roof project and build local expertise, he said.

The grant will pay for solar panels generating approximately 10 to 12 kilowatts of electricity. The city will monitor electricity use and savings and determine pollution reductions.

A city memo estimates the solar panels would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20,000 pounds a year, roughly equivalent to a passenger car driving 25,117 miles. It would also cut nitrogen dioxide emissions by 50 pounds a year and sulfur dioxide by 210 pounds.

Fire Station 6's solar panels should get installed this spring, Fischer said. The city would get an $8,000 state energy rebate for the solar panel ($2,000 per kilowatt, up to a maximum of four kilowatts or $,8000), which it would put back into the program.

The city has not yet decided where else to site the remaining panels, he said.