A solar-battery system is now powering a city building in San Diego for the first time, the mayor announced Wednesday.
The Scripps Ranch Community Recreation Center on Blue Cypress Drive now supplies its own energy with a battery powered by solar panels on the center's roof.
“One important feature of this solar battery project is that it kicks in if the electrical grid kicks off,” said Chris Gonaver, Environmental Services Dept. Director at the press conference announcing the battery. “That might happen during an emergency and we’ve seen that happen before.
The center will serve as an "islanded" command center for emergency authorities in events such as wildfires, said Mayor Jerry Sanders at the center on Tuesday.
When an emergency happens, the recreation center will automatically disengage from the city's power grid and start supplying stored-up energy for crews and victims who come to the center for help.
In addition to saving power for emergency situations, the rechargable battery is currently supplying clean energy to the Center, which saves the city about $2,000 per month.
Two grants funded the project, which used parts made only in the United States. The U.S. Department of Energy gave the city $200,000 and the California Public Utilities Commission gave the city $345,000.
“If what we do here is successful, other city of San Diego recreation centers may be considered for similar types of operations," Gonaver said.
Sanders added that the battery system is another step toward the city's goal to produce 50 megawats of clean solar energy from city facilities and residences.