Tuesday, January 19, 2010

TriMet LRT substation taps renewable energy sources

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One of Portland TriMet’s new substations, located at Southwest Jackson, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, is designed to tap solar and wind power for much of its operation.

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The $1.2 million substation, expected to begin operating next month, will be completed by this fall. Roughly $1 million is funded though federal renewable energy project funds. From all sources, the substation is designed to power about one-third of the Portland mall light rail route, recently converted from a bus mall.

"This is something we've never really done," TriMet architect Bob Hastings said. "It's the first of its kind anywhere on a transit system."

A 50-kilowatt solar array will cost $750,000, while complementary wind turbines are estimated to cost about $250,000. The two elements will be paid for with public funding, energy tax credits, and a renewable energy fund financed by Portland General Electric. Combined, the solar and wind sources are expected to produce 75% to 90% of the power needed; excess energy will be sold back to Portland General Electric.