Whether or not you support or hate nuclear power, most nuclear plants in the United States aren’t going anywhere any time soon. The purpose of this article is not to debate the pros and cons of nuclear power.
The subject actually is a bit ironic: did you know that several nuclear power plants and major utility centers around the country are now or soon will use solar lighting for perimeter security, particularly as back-up when there are natural or intentional power outages.
While much information is publicly available (but difficult to find) about which plants are doing what and where, we are not publishing it in this article. We found out in a round-about way and did research to see how prominent the practice of using solar for perimeter lights actually is.
And for every utility that we identified, we are sure there are several for which the information is still, probably rightfully so, private.
Redundant Power Is Smart, and Often Legally Mandated, for Utilities
While all nuclear plants have redundant power sources for all operations, nuclear plants are indeed choosing solar lighting for perimeter security. For many reasons, they do not wish to publicize their plans.
Many are adding solar lights to maintain critical security systems mandated by homeland security. Along with the cost of solar lighting as opposed to a grid-based system, the independent nature of each solar light most is a likely factor in the decision to go solar. And, most large utility plants and many nuclear power plants are often in out-of-the-way areas.
Special Solar Lights Used for Major Applications
Not only are the right type of solar lights (bright and reliable) great for security, they offer additional benefits for perimeter security especially since most of them incorporate great anti-vandalism measure.
Utility stations, particularly nuclear plants, have extensive redundancy system in the event self-contained or on-grid electricity or other utilities are disrupted. And, the bottom line is that disrupting electricity is often easy enough do to in just a few seconds with a backhoe by someone who knows the general vicinity of phone, cable and power lines.
But, each and every solar security light (and many are on poles 20 feet or taller) would need to be manually compromised along the entire perimeter. Doing so is highly unlikely to go unnoticed before many lights could be destroyed and security personnel or law enforcement could reach the area.
Protecting Utilities a Key Focus of Homeland Security
Many homeland security officials believe that one way terrorists may go after us is by attacking major electrical grids or other major utilities. In fact, the major Northeast Blackout of August 2003 was originally feared that the cause was terrorism.
The blackout affected an estimated 10 million people in Ontario, Canada and 45 million people in eight US states, including much of New York and all of New York City. Much of the press intention on the blackout focused on New York City, where not only electricity but other utilities was shut down.
While the actual cause was determined to be due to an accidental power surge, many people still reeling from 9/11 panicked that it was another act of terrorism. And it’s understandable that they would. Why? Because it could have happened!
Without ruining the typical American’s way of life (a goal or foreign and home-grown terrorists), we all live daily with a certain amount of risk. It doesn’t stop people from going to the mall, attending New Year’s Eve celebrations in major cities, or much else. (Okay, flying is far more of a nuisance than it used to be, but it’s an unfortunate necessity. Debating specific incidents is not the purpose of this article.)
Of course, security lights used by nuclear power plants are a lot more complex than those used for the average homeowner. Utility plants generally use lights very close to (or the same) as solar street lights that are increasingly used throughout the US. They have complex battery systems, charge control systems, and exceptional solar lights, often covered in a cage that makes them difficult to break.
But, if major utility stations and nuclear plants are going solar for security, why shouldn’t you?
Consider Solar Security Lights for Your Property!
The average cost to run a halogen or incandescent home security spotlight is far more than running an LED equivalent. And, solar makes the home security system virtually free after upfront costs.
Why? LEDs are estimated to last up to 50,000 to 80,000 hours (individual systems vary; LEDs for high power security last around five to eight years). Home solar security lights generally use NiMh batteries that last for 2 years before needing replacement. And solar makes operational costs virtually nothing.
If you really want spotlights or floodlights that work 100% of the time (or as close as possible) to 100% of the time, consider what we we did. We purchased a home from owners that had several high wattage halogen and incandescent solar floodlights, most activated by motion. Not only did they do a number on our electrical bill, they were so bright that they bothered our sleep (and our neighbors) when the least bit of motion activated them.
While we replaced all of the bulbs with the most cost-efficient possible and keep them for long periods of cloudy or rainy days, we also added several solar security floodlights for everyday use. We rely on them unless there are several days of bad weather, when we turn the old energy hogs back on.
Home solar security lights are bright enough to do what we need, specifically keep vandals or other bad people away, but we don’t get calls from annoyed neighbors, we don’t get awoken when a deer or dog runs through the yard, and the money we’ve saved on utilities has paid for the lights (including battery changes) several times over.
What solar security lights for nuclear plants and other major utility centers do is make us all safer by making it harder for terrorists, or even drunken vandals, to meet their destructive objectives. That green energy instead of nuclear power is used is just icing on the cake.