What could be worse than calling upon your local emergency response office, or simply 911, only to have a broad power failure disrupt communications or delay a response? Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) wasn’t about to find out. That’s why they recently commissioned Spire Solar Chicago to complete a 10 kW solar electric photovoltaic (PV) backup system on their building.Chicago, Illinois – February 11, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] This builds on a 38 kW solar array, also installed by Spire Solar Chicago in early 2002. The system will ensure a constant supply of power for the office’s critical functions. A commercial battery system donated by ComEd stores the backup power supply, providing additional energy reliability to this load-critical application. The batteries were previously part of the solar electric system at the 2003 Earth from Above Exelon exhibit at Millennium Park. There, PV was used to provide night lighting for the internationally recognized Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s aerial photography. The new OEMC 10 kW system was funded by a cooperative effort from the City of Chicago Department of Environment, ComEd, and the Illinois State Clean Energy Community Foundation. The OEMC is the City of Chicago’s hub for routing some five million annual 911 emergency calls to thousands of police and fire units, as well as being the primary contact agency for communications with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The uninterruptible power supply will feed energy for lighting of the Joint Operations Center (JOC) housed within the OEMC. “It’s the most critical area for city operations during a crisis,” says Rich Enault, OEMC chief operating engineer. The 10 kW photovoltaic system produces enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1-2 homes. It will keep the standby batteries charged, while providing pollution-free, renewable electricity year round. Last year’s August blackout brought a new awareness to the subject of backup power generation. The New York City Council finance office estimated the blackout cost the City up to $750 million in lost revenue – up to $40 million in lost tax revenue and up to $10 million in overtime pay for the first 24 hours (USA Today). “Today, going without power even for a few minutes can cost millions. Solar backup is clean, quiet and low maintenance,” Executive Vice President and General Manager of Spire Solar, Steve Hogan. “Best of all, it supplies a reliable, sustainable source of power in the event of an emergency.” The installation of PV systems, integrated with a backup power source such as in the case of the OEMC, can serve to mitigate such power related economic losses. Furthermore, for safety the City of Chicago Building Code now requires all buildings higher than seven stories to install backup power generation. Spire Solar markets Solar Security photovoltaic power systems with battery backup.