The city of Saratoga installed backup batteries at 14 traffic lights this summer to use in the event of an emergency power outage to keep traffic safe.
Most of the cost of the $182,000 project was covered by Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE). The Sunnyvale-based nonprofit has awarded Saratoga a $139,000 Community Resilience Grant.
“Many of our busiest signalized intersections are in or adjacent to high fire hazard areas and have lost power during planned power outages in recent years, causing delays and confusion,” said Saratoga Mayor Tina Walia, a member of the community. the board of directors of SVCE. “We quickly realized that the problems we encountered during a planned outage would be drastically exacerbated during an emergency.”
The batteries are located at 14 traffic lights in the city, including Saratoga Avenue at Bellgrove Circle, Fruitvale Avenue and Cox Avenue, and Saratoga-Sunnyvale and Pierce roads.
The backup batteries come on for two hours to power traffic lights in the event of a power outage due to forest fires, earthquakes or other calamities.
The new system will also switch to flashing red lights for power outages that last more than two hours and can last up to eight hours.
Saratoga officials would control the lights in emergency situations to facilitate the safest and most effective flow of traffic if evacuations are needed.
SVCE invested $5 million in local communities to support cities during power outages.
“SVCE approved this grant to support investment in local energy resilience,” said Girish Balachandran, CEO of SVCE. “The backup battery project adds an important safety feature that protects the community from vulnerability to power outages and provides the city with control in case evacuations are needed.”