Last week, there was much mumbling and grumbling over Yosemite’s decision to chop down thousands of trees to improve its picturesque views, but don’t start hating the beloved park just yet. In fact, on the very same day we reported the park’s tree chopping decision, Yosemite officials flipped the switch on a $5.8 million solar array — the largest solar installation in a national park ever. The 672 kW system consists of 2,800 PV panels and will be able to provide 12 percent of the park’s total energy needs.

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Located in the park’s El Portal Maintenance and Administrative Complex, the solar array is highly visible to all visitors to the park offices and facilities at the complex. The array is made up of a 500 kW solar canopy over a parking area, a 100 kW rooftop array on a warehouse, and a 72 kW wall mounted array. The system was designed and installed by Suntrek.

Yosemite estimates it will be “saving approximately $50,000 per year on electricity purchased off the grid and is expecting to receive a $700,000 energy rebate from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) over the next five years. This represents an approximate 12 percent reduction in electricity purchased off the grid.”

During a ribbon cutting ceremony, Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher said, “Yosemite carries a message to the nation, really to the world, that we really can live on this planet in a good way and reduce our energy consumption.”

Via Treehugger

Images via National Parks Service and SolarWorld