Use parking lots, rooftops for solar

By From page A14 | December 02, 2012

I have strong objections to Yolo County giving a large sole-source contract to SunPower to install large solar installations.

A better approach would be to install a larger number of smaller installations closer to where the power is needed. This would create the ability to let many more contracts that could be performed by local solar contractors (keeping the work and the money local), would reduce the cost for expensive electrical ties to the grid, and would reduce or eliminate the need to cover up land that has not already been used for other purposes.

Solar on parking lots has been shown to be effective and adds a secondary benefit of providing shading. Solar on rooftops has been shown to provide a significant secondary benefit by reducing building power needs because of shading by the panels.

The county and local schools already have enough land in the form of parking lots, rooftops, closed landfill cells and other places to install that equivalent amount of solar power.

While it is much easier, and probably quicker, to hire a single contractor to install the arrays on open land that doesn’t have any other immediate use, it is not the best approach because of the reasons that I have just cited and others.

The high cost of removing that land from other productive uses needs to be included into the cost of the system. Placing the arrays on land such as parking lots and rooftops does not degrade the value of the land.

The county needs to take the time to figure out how to do this in the way that gets the most “bang for the buck” while doing the least amount of environmental damage.

Charles Hoes


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