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Scripps Ranch Recreation Center Can Keep The Lights On

Aired 9/27/12 on KPBS News.

A San Diego recreation center is now capable of keeping the lights on, even if the rest of the electric grid is dark thanks to a combination of solar panels and batteries.

— The Scripps Ranch Community Recreation Center could become a major community focal point during a disaster.

Scripps Ranch Recreation Center
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Above: Scripps Ranch Recreation Center

That's because the center has a brand new solar power array on its roof that could help keep the lights on while the rest of the region struggles in the dark.

The solar panels have cut the buildings power bill from $2,000 a month to next to nothing, but the system's real value will be realized during an emergency.

"The power grid on top, as well as the energy back-up system with our battery system would be able to continue to power this building while we were off the grid, so it is a self sustainable energy system," said Chris Gonover of the San Diego Environmental Services Department.

Because the building will have power, the recreation center could serve as a gathering place for residents or a communications center for first responders.

State and federal dollars paid for the $545,000 project, with the hopes it will serve as a model for other communities. It is the first of its kind in Southern California.

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