LAWRENCE, KS - The City of Lawrence's emergency-response vehicles are sporting a new "green" look, according to the Lawrence Journal World.
To save money, city officials have had solar panels installed on two ambulances and two fire trucks.
According to Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical Division Chief Bill Stark, emergency vehicles use significant amounts of energy because they must idle at the scene of incidents.
The City purchased an 80-watt solar panel for each vehicle for $500 each.
Steve Stewart, city fleet manager, expects the panels pay for themselves in 24 months.
“Right now if we have a vehicle that’s, say, out on inspection, if you leave the turn signals on or the radios going, it will run the battery down pretty quickly.” Stewart said. “That puts a lot of extra load on the alternator to recharge the batteries and, consequently, uses more fuel."
Other communities have tried putting solar panels on emergency vehicles with inconclusive results.
“We decided we would go ahead and start our own database,” Stewart said. “We could determine quicker whether this was going to be something we wanted to expand on more vehicles.”