Andrew Michler

New Jersey Solar Installations Leave Some Neighborhood Residents Sore

by , 04/28/11
filed under: News, Solar Power, Urban design

Solar power controversy, NYT solar, PSE&G Solar, Solar pole mount, utility pole mount solar, distributed solar, green power New Jersey, Ugly solar

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.

Via The New York Times

Photo © Petra Solar

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4 Comments

  1. lazyreader April 29, 2011 at 8:03 am

    If you wanted something nice for you neighborhood, try these.

    http://inhabitat.com/ross-lovegrove-solar-trees-take-to-the-streets-of-vienna/

  2. keithccc April 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    What weirdos!!!!
    Like the telephone pole itself was something beautiful!?!

  3. lazyreader April 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Many places have home owners associations. If they had formed one in their neighborhood they could better oppose the panels. It’s not like the minuscule power they generate will have an effect on their power bill or their energy output. In San Diego, the Navy for instance built a solar array across it’s parking lot at the cost of 1.9 million dollars (all Stimulus money). It’ll only save 30,000 dollars a year for them. Which means it will pay for it self after 63.3333 years (assuming they don’t spend those savings). If for instance they put the saved money in the bank to collect with interest. So say the payback could be under 40 years or so. But as for the panels, they’ll be obsolete in about 10 years. And removed after 15-20, Now you have to contract, pay and install new more modern ones and pay for the safe disposal of the old panels, as these high efficiency solar cells are made of gallium arsenide (arsenic compounds for all those who failed chemistry class) and germanium, not silicon. Don’t forget the cost of maintenance, cleaning and service. Where’s the cost saving. All it will do is generate only a fraction of the power needs and look good for the ribbon cutting.

  4. caeman April 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    And this why I hate certain eco hippies. They are all for solar, as long as its not on their street, or back yard. Shut up and get used to it. Re-using the power poles for this purpose is a fantastic idea. It spreads out the panels and doesn’t waste ground land.

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