TriMet installing solar panels along rail line

Posted on November 29, 2011

Portland, Ore.-based TriMet is installing solar panels at the South Terminus of the MAX Green and Yellow lines at SW Jackson Street near Portland State University. This is the first solar energy project utilized along the agency's 52-mile MAX light rail system. When completed, it will produce more than 67,000 kilowatts of power annually, offsetting energy used by site lighting and two light rail electrical systems buildings.

The 253 solar modules will be installed at TriMet's South Terminus MAX substation and signal-communications building. Installation is expected to last up to four weeks.

Renewable energy generated by the solar panel system will go directly into Portland General Electric's power grid through a power purchasing agreement, offsetting the energy required to power onsite lighting and electrical systems/buildings. Currently, these electrical systems have an average annual power cost of $3,680; TriMet expects roughly that amount to receive as an energy credit.

TriMet will monitor the site's energy output and performance and provide the data to Portland State University for research and education purposes.

REC Solar, which has served as a key system design and engineering resource for the project, will be installing the solar modules manufactured by SolarWorld of Hillsboro, Ore.

The project budget is approximately $370,600, which is being funded with remaining monies from the I-205/Portland Mall Light Rail Project – now called the MAX Green Line. An Energy Trust of Oregon rebate is expected to cover about 35 percent of the costs; Portland General Electric is also a funding partner.

As funding allows, plans call for vertical axis wind turbines to be added to catenary poles at South Terminus, providing more renewable energy for the site. The South Terminus already has several sustainable components, including on-site stormwater treatment, low energy site and exterior building lighting, and site components created with materials originally salvaged from the Mall during construction of the light rail alignment.

REC Solar is a solar power provider specializing in grid-tied residential and commercial installations. SolarWorld offers brand-name, crystalline solar-power technology.

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