Posted on September 21, 2011

Paso Robles: With PG&E’s Help, New Trailer Will Tell the Solar Story

By Tracy Correa

The city of Paso Robles is hoping a specially modified 6-foot by-10-foot trailer will help the public better understand how solar energy works.

From left, Paso Robles City Council members John Hamon and Fred Strong, PG&E's Patricia Wilmore, Mayor Duane Picanco and City Council members Ed Steinbeck and Nick Gilman.

The city plans to acquire a “solar trailer” that will make appearances throughout the community, from festivals to schools. It is being funded by a $25,000 grant from PG&E that was presented to the Paso Robles City Council on Tuesday (Sept. 20) night.

The mobile unit will be retrofitted and equipped with solar panels and battery-storage capabilities. The trailer will be able of providing 5 kilowatts of power over a four-hour period – enough energy to power an amplified band for an afternoon.

The trailer — with its rooftop solar panels — will be towed to various locations, including schools where it will be used as a teaching tool for environmental stewardship.

“It really creates an opportunity for us to showcase sustainable energy practices where locals and tourists can see it,” said Assistant City Manager Meg Williamson.

The trailer also could be used to supply emergency power throughout the community when backup power sources are limited. For example, Williamson said, the mobile unit could provide power for musical sound systems and portable kitchens during special events at what she described as a “severely underpowered” downtown park.

“Paso Robles, with its beautiful downtown park that hosts over 22 events every year, and its history of effective partnership with local schools, is an ideal city in which to place a solar trailer,” said Patricia Wilmore, a PG&E government relations representative who helped secure the grant for the city.

About $6,000 of the grant will be used to purchase the trailer and the remaining $19,000 will pay for contracted solar retrofitting. The solar trailer is scheduled to debut in April during Earth Day events.

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