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Solar panels now powering stations along Airport TRAX Line

By Andrew Wittenberg | Posted - Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:26pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Transit Authority's Airport TRAX Line is getting a bit greener: the stops along North Temple will now be powered by the sun.

At one of the stops along North Temple, aptly named Power Station, TRAX trains whiz by every quarter hour. It's part of the newest line that takes passengers from downtown Salt Lake City to Salt Lake International Airport.

But what riders don't see or hear is the amount of electricity Power Station is generating.

"Over a year's time, those solar panels are expected to generate more electricity than what it takes to power about nine average Utah homes," said Jeff Hymas, spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power.

The solar panels atop Power Station, and three other TRAX stations along the airport line, are new, thanks to a 2011 Blue Sky grant from Rocky Mountain Power. It's one of 82 similar projects going on around the state, Hymas said.

It's also a test program for UTA to see how solar power could reduce costs and even put power back into the system. If it's successful, UTA wants to look at using this technology along more of its lines.

R.D. Bishop, UTA's project director for the Airport Trax Line, said the solar panels on top of the stations are running the ticket vending machines, the cameras and the lights — pretty much everything that needs power, except the trains themselves.

On the sunny afternoon KSL News visited Power Station, the panels had already taken in 350 kilowatt hours for the day, which is more than double the electricity needed to power one station.

"It takes 100 to 150 kilowatt hours each to power each station, each day," Bishop said.

But the stations aren't completely self-sufficient; they still pull electricity the old-fashioned way when needed.

"Of course, during the winter months when it's cloud cover, it won't be quite as effective," Bishop said.

Friday night, for the first time, the lights at stations along the airport line were changing color — just one indication of the solar-powered platforms along the line.


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