Park City Fire District installs solar panels |

Park City Fire District installs solar panels

A recently completed renewable energy project at the Park City Fire District will save taxpayers several thousand dollars a year, according to Chief Paul Hewitt.

Last month, 117 solar panels were installed on the fire district’s administration and logistics building, 736 Bitner Road. It went online Aug. 18.

"Really, it was a no-brainer," Hewitt said about the project. "It saves taxpayers about $4,000 a year and it makes us greener. There were those years when citizens would have never wanted a tax entity to spend that much money on a project, but now it’s expected and almost demanded."

Solar panels have been installed at several buildings in Summit County, including the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center, the Marsac Building, the Park City police station on Park Avenue, the Public Works complex and the Summit County Justice Center.

For several years, the fire district has taken steps to reduce its energy use at each of its seven stations, Hewitt said. In addition to installing the solar panels, the fire district has replaced incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient ones, Hewitt said, adding Capt. Michael Meinhold has led the efforts.

Meinhold said he unknowingly volunteered himself for it when he was talking to Hewitt about his experiences with renewable energy. Meinhold’s wife works as a consultant in Salt Lake County with environmentally sustainable companies.

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"My wife and I had unsuccessfully tried to install solar on our home," Meinhold said. "Unfortunately, Wasatch County shut us down for various reasons. But I just know that it’s the right thing to do, especially for businesses in Park City. I told Chief Hewitt I had a little bit of knowledge in the area and I ended up taking it from there."

Meinhold secured a $55,000 grant to cover 60 percent of the solar panel installation through Blue Sky Renewable Energy. A check was presented to the fire district on Tuesday. The Park City Fire District also budgeted approximately $35,000 for the project.

The solar panels will reduce the fire district’s annual carbon emissions by 30.3 metric tons per year. The district’s website provides a link to view the buildings’ energy data.

"Now, every time I go over to those buildings I get giddy because we are making power with the sun," Meinhold said. "It makes me happy and feel better knowing we are doing our part."