The documents, which have never been made public, indicate that between April 2020 and June 2021, Amazon experienced “critical fire or arc flash events” in at least six of its 47 North American sites with solar installations, effecting 12.7% of such facilities. Arc flashes are a kind of electrical explosion. “The rate of dangerous incidents is unacceptable, and above industry averages,” an Amazon employee wrote in one of the internal reports. […] By June of last year, all of Amazon’s U.S. operations with solar had to be taken offline temporarily, internal documents show. The company had to ensure its systems were designed, installed and maintained properly before “re-energizing” any of them.
Amazon spokesperson Erika Howard told CNBC in a statement that the incidents involved systems run by partners, and that the company responded by voluntarily turning off its solar-powered roofs. “Out of an abundance of caution, following a small number of isolated incidents with onsite solar systems owned and operated by third parties, Amazon proactively powered off our onsite solar installations in North America, and took immediate steps to re-inspect each installation by a leading solar technical expert firm,” the statement said. […] “As inspections are completed, our onsite solar systems are being powered back on,” Howard said. “Amazon also built a team of dedicated solar experts overseeing the construction, operations, and maintenance of our systems in-house to ensure the safety of our systems.” “An Amazon employee estimated, in the documents circulated internally, that each incident cost the company an average of $2.7 million,” adds the report. “The Amazon employee also said the company would lose $940,000 per month, or $20,000 for each of the 47 decommissioned North American sites, as long as the solar remained offline. There could be additional costs for Amazon depending on contracts with clean energy partners for renewable energy credits, the documents show.”
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