The Glide Fire Station has a new look that will help provide emergency electrical power for the facility and save the department money at the same time.

Thanks to funding grants from the Pacific Power Blue Sky program and the Energy Trust of Oregon, the department qualified for a grant that covered about 80% of the cost of a 69 kilowatt solar project at the station along Highway 138E next to Glide High School.

Beth Werner, business manager for the Glide Rural Fire Protection District, said the entire cost of the solar array and inverter system — $165,080 — was paid for by Pacific Power’s Blue Sky 2018 funding award. The district invested an additional $40,000 to purchase a 20 kilowatt-hour battery backup system to power essential items during an extended electrical outage. The total cost of the project was $212,000.

“This will allow us to be more cost-efficient and to better prepare for a disaster,” Werner said.

And not only does the system provide a backup in case of a power outage, but it will pay for itself by getting credits for the energy that it sends back to the power grid. The fire station will use what it needs and the rest is credited to the association’s account. It is projected that the system will save the department more than $8,400 in the first year, so in about five years the solar project will have paid for itself.

“If you look at the meter, you can see which way it’s serving energy, whether we’re sending energy out to the grid or it might be going the other way,” Werner said.

If the energy is being sent out, the meter will go backward, giving the fire station a credit for the power it produces.

Glide Fire Chief Ted Damewood says it was a good investment for the fire district which covers about 25 square miles from Blacktop Hill about 8 miles east of Roseburg to Susan Creek east of Idleyld Park, and the department responds as far as Diamond Lake if needed.

“I’m very excited, this project is one more step for us to remain resilient in a natural disaster,” Damewood said. “If the Cascadia event ever happens and knocks down power lines, the new system will run some key things. If for some reason we run out of propane for the generator during a major event, it’s like a redundant backup.”

The fire department was approached about installing the solar panels in May of 2018 and in February of 2019 they received the grant to go ahead with it. The 175 panels that turn sunlight into electricity, were mounted on the roof of the station this summer, along with six inverters that convert the electricity from DC to AC power. The system was activated Sept. 4.

Glide Fire Association’s volunteers will be available to speak with the public about their new solar project, how it works and how it will benefit the public at their annual tri-tip barbecue and craft fair fundraiser this weekend at the Glide Community Center. Damewood says the department definitely needs more volunteers and will be looking for recruits this weekend.

“We always try to recruit people whenever we can,” Damewood said. “Last year we ran 561 calls and we’re right at 25 volunteers, and this year already, we have 503 calls with a couple of busy months to go.”

The barbecue runs until 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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