New Jersey is amongst many states that now have a mandate for solar energy, but the state’s largest utility has taken a unique tack to the question of where to put all those solar panels. As part of a Public Service Electric and Gas roll-out of the green technology, they decided to install an astonishing 40 megawatts of solar panel on one power pole at a time. The New York Times reports that not all residents are celebrating the new panels popping up throughout their neighborhoods. Some consider the new panels to be an eye-sore, while others see the panels as a badge of pride representing a stand for clean power.
New Jersey has one of the most aggressive mandates in the country to install solar electric—23% renewable power by 2021. Since this means PSE&G needs a lot of places to install solar, they decided that power pole mounted solar panels is one of the most cost effective approaches. Each 220-watt module uses a micro-inverter, which plugs directly into the power pole. Entire residential streets are now lined with the 5 x 2.5 foot solar panels.
The New York Times reports that “Some residents consider the overhanging panels ‘ugly and ‘hideous’ and worry aloud about the effect on property values.” Many towns are now trying to slow or stop the installations in order to preserve the suburban mystique. Reminiscent of the battle over solar panels on rooftops in California a few years ago, a distinct segment of the population believes the panels are best kept out of site. There are however a number of others that consider it an important reminder of how important clean energy is for our future.
The benefits to the utility are more than just clean power — the technology is part of a smart grid effort. When power goes out or becomes “dirty” for instance, the micro inverters can report the problems directly to the utility company.
Photo © Petra Solar