BART to install solar panels at facility

April 22, 2009 2:25:02 PM PDT
It's Earth Day, and BART is using the occasion to bring green energy to a key part of its operation. Wednesday, BART will begin installing hundreds of solar panels at its Richmond maintenance shop.

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BART is working hard to show it's a green transit agency, not only by riding the train cars, but behind the scenes when it comes to maintenance as well.

For example, for train cars that weigh 25 tons a piece, BART is soon going to be using solar energy to lift them up for maintenance. BART is going to use the intense power of the sun by harnessing solar energy in place of traditional electricity for maintenance purposes at its Richmond yard.

On Wednesday morning, transit agency crews began installing the first of 912 Photvoltaic solar energy panels for cameras on the roof of BART's Richmond shop. Then, crews will show off the type of heavy-duty maintenance work the new energy sources are expected to power -- which includes lifting train cars to do repairs under them. Also, all the shop's lights will be replaced with solar-powered ones.

"Everybody knows that riding BART is a green way to go, but the way we conduct our business behind the scenes isn't as green as you might think, so this is the way that we're trying to get rid of all the inefficient ways of doing our business and making them more green," said Linton Johnson, BART spokesperson.

The energy pulled from the solar panels will clearly save on electricity costs. Between three solar projects, BART estimates it will save about $3.4 million off energy costs over the next 20 years. It's definitely a step in the right direction toward reducing traditional electric energy usage.

BART is definitely doing its part to go greener; it plans next to install other solar energy panels on the roof of its Hayward maintenance yard and put up a solar panel canopy in a portion of the parking lot of the Orinda BART station.

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