|Earthquake Emergency Preparedness|
Being Prepared, Not Scared…
School Earthquake Emergency Preparedness Initiative
Not if, but when the Big One (earthquake) devastates California, are we prepared or will we all be scared? Unlike Katrina where they had 4 days notice, we will be faced with 4 seconds notice. It will not be 30,000 people without power, it will be 3 million people without power for months.
In learning from the awful experiences in New Orleans, the Green Technology Institute and the Thomas Bradley Legacy Foundation in Los Angeles are advocating Solar Earthquake Emergency Preparedness Centers throughout the public school districts.
Emergency System Design
Schools need to be designed with sustainability and efficiency in mind. One key to this design is locally powered DC electrical systems. These hybrid system will get power from the locally generated sources (Solar Cells, Wind, other) first, and only use the grid as a backup. Should the grid fail, even for an extended period of time, the system will sustain itself by using the locally generated power first, then supplementing with batteries, generators, or other sources if and when they are needed. In one proposed design, based on the fact that DC power system are so versatile, is to allow plug-in hybrid vehicles to connect to the building to provide additional power that can be 'called in' if needed.
CPUC President Michael Peevey and Gabrielino High School students
Los Angeles California Public Utilities Commission president, Michael Peevey was briefed on the need for a community based wireless solar school emergency preparedness plan that provides education and training for students, teachers, and parents to be prepared, not scared, during an earthquake disaster. The Green Technology Institute of the Tom Bradley Legacy Foundation organized the symposium at the Audubon Center at Debs Park , an off-grid 5,000 s.f. solar powered center near downtown Los Angeles.
The Audubon Center is an operating showcase for a Wireless Earthquake Community Crisis Center and will become the gather place for the community in case of an earthquake emergency. There are no gas and sewer lines connecting to the Center. The wastewater is treated on site and is being recharged into the ground as part of a water recycling program.
Career Technology Educator (CTE) instructor, Michael Winters led the discussion with the assistance of students from Gabrielino High School who prepared the presentation material for the Symposium. Solar industry leaders Mark Robinson of Nextek Power Systems, Robert McAmis of-Solar Integrated Technology, Inc. and John Gavlik of LearnOnLine presented their technologies and how they are involved with the Wireless Emergency Community Crisis Center.
Michael Winters states, “It is important that we learn from history, in this case recent history. Not to criticize the efforts regarding the Katrina/Rita disasters but to provide solutions to what became apparent in these events is the need for long term needs for individuals stranded in the disaster area. In California many public school facilities are designated as community gathering centers in the event of a major disaster. We continue to hope that this does not occur on our watch yet we now understand that we need to be ready on our watch if such an event occurs in our regions. Students have created a plan with the participation of various technology vendors that will create off grid centers that provide generated energy for classroom use during regular operation and can immediately be transformed into Emergency Community Crisis Centers (EC3)”
The current design of the California Solar Initiative requires that the photovoltaic system shuts down during a grid failure; therefore, the homeowners will not have power during a disaster unless they have backup batteries. Currently, there are over 21,000 photovoltaic system installations in California that will not operate during a power failure. Mark Robinson states, “There are three barriers to using conventional local energy generation systems (like solar and wind): Efficiency, Net Metering, and Anti-Islanding. The efficiency losses to make the energy compatible with the grid are unnecessary as the system needs to be designed to withstand long grid outages. Net-Metering, selling back to the grid can cause difficulty if the utility has no net-metering funds available. Anti-Islanding, a law protecting utility maintenance personnel requires that most generating systems be shut down in the event of a grid failure. These barriers are avoided by powering local DC loads (lighting, motors, computers) with locally generated energy where, when, and how it is generated.’
Attendees included Winston Doby, UC Vice President of Student Affairs who is focusing on inspiring minority students to become excited about science and math as they relate to renewable technology applications. Also participating, Greg Newhouse, Associate Dean -Miramar College, Advanced Transportation and Stationary Technologies for implementation of centers into the San Diego region.
The Project Green Phoenix Symposium is part of a Solar School Initiative to implement decentralized energy generation that dynamically engages students in renewable energy education that enhanced academic learning while implementing, monitoring and maintaining the energy generation systems. This training in our public schools classrooms provides off grid cost savings for fiscal independence and prepares young people for the future career opportunities in the coming Green Revolution. Learning from our lack of preparing students for the opportunities provided in the Dotcom Revolution where we now depend on HB-1 visas for foreign workers to have thousands of high paying positions, we must prepare our students in the areas of science, math, and technology to meet the challenges in the 21st century.
Mr. Peevey acknowledged that the concept was sound and the Project Green Phoenix team submits a written proposal to the CPUC. Mr. Peevey additionally requested that we involve additional Federal, State, Local agencies and political leaders to make this program a reality. Les Hamasaki , Managing Director of the Foundation, stated that the priority for the California Solar Initiative should benefit the public, especially schools and public park facilities rather than the individual homeowners. Also, the solar rebate program should include incentivizing battery backup systems in order for thousands of solar homeowners to become part of the neighborhood emergency response network in case of a major earthquake disaster.