Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Solar Panels in Maplewood

There's a TON of Pole Glancing Going on on Oakland

Solar panels suddenly popped up on utility poles yesterday. Why?
A residential stretch of street, right across from Maplecrest Park underwent a bit of a makeover yesterday morning. Oakland Street residents awoke to a somewhat electrifying sight: solar panels adorning the utility poles running from Courter Avenue through the length of street bordering the park.
"I've never noticed them before," remarked Linda, who lives on Elmwood. Her walking companion, Sarah, shook her head, too, adding, "No, I haven't seen them until today, either." (Linda's dog, Tonks, had no comment.)
When a snow-shoveling resident also said she had no idea when or why the panels popped up, I resolved to solve this solar mystery. After a phone call to a friend who lives on the block confirmed that residents were in the dark about the installation, I set out for more illumination.
I called to get an official answer from the town; my questions prompted a lot of head scratching and call forwarding. Finally, I wound up on the line with the office of Maplewood's Town Engineer, Tom Malavasi, and while he didn't have a ready answer either, Mr. Malavasi said he'd head over personally to check it out and get back to me.
True to his word he called back to say that this was part of PSE&G's 'Solar 4 All' initiative and directed me to the company's site. Apparently, the panels are part of PSEG's 'pole-attached solar project', which is part of their goal to "own and operate 80 megawatts of solar power, to be installed by the end of 2013"....
Need further enlightening? As per PSE&G's website:
"In July 2009, PSE&G received regulatory approval to install small solar energy units on 200,000 utility poles and street lights in the towns we service in the next two years. The solar power will flow to the electric grid, which serves all customers.
PSE&G’s investment is the largest pole-attached solar installation in the world. Thanks to this and other programs, New Jersey has more installed solar capacity than any state except California."
Okay, but interestingly enough in the topic's  'Frequently Asked Questions' PSEG also states that they are "informing municipal officials when we are working in their towns." (Um, methinks they need to exert a little more energy on THAT effort...)
And just what are residents who don't take a shine to the aesthetics of the new panels to do? Judging from the below information from PSE&G's site, just look on the bright side, 'cause the panels are staying put:

"Will PSE&G move a solar unit if residents don’t like where it is installed?

PSE&G understands that residents may have concerns about the placement of the solar energy units in their neighborhoods. Because of many factors that must be considered, we regret that we are not able to move a particular unit to another location. Clean, renewable solar energy benefits everyone by reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
Well, then! Not to seem dim, but since PSE&G states 'ownership' of the panels so frequently on their site, I should assume/hope that the town we pay taxes to is receiving some sort of compensation for panels installed on our streets that flow into that grid that we, as PSE&G customers, are already paying (a premium) for? Right?
What do you think about solar panels popping up on your street?! Let us know!

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