Even though the Red Rock Canyon Fire Station, located in Nevada, is under the control of the Bureau of Land Management, that didn’t mean that it was able to jump through all the bureaucratic hoops necessary to connect the station to the grid.
The fire station serves the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and surrounding public lands, located 5 miles west of Las Vegas sprawl.
For the last several years, the fire station has been dependent on an unreliable diesel generator but it now hosts arguably the largest off-grid solar array in Nevada.
Before installing solar, the station would routinely lose power when outdoor temperatures reached 110 or 115 and the diesel generator overheated, according to BLM fire operations specialist Geoff Wallin.
Considering that during the busiest months of the year at the fire station, up to 60 firefighters at a time may live and work at the facility. The frequent power outages caused by the diesel generator meant that sometimes the staff would have to relocate to area hotels.
But the staff loves the new solar photovoltaic array which has created a dependable, consistent flow of electricity for the station.
Viet Q. Tran, project engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said, “The new photovoltaic system is capable of producing an average of 40 KWAC of electricity.”
Tran says the system is designed to fully support the fire station’s energy demand; its load was calculated at 38.6KW, leaving a small overage during peak performance. Another big advantage is the 240 batteries attached to the system. In case of a prolonged outage, the Corps of Engineers say that batteries could power the station for two days.
Check out the BLM’s video of the construction of the Red Rock Canyon array: