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Solar panels light up Yosemite National Park, don't spoil your view

Solar panels light up Yosemite National Park, don't spoil your view
Sean Buckley
Sean Buckley|@seaniccus|August 4, 2011 10:17 PM
Normally we like to keep our technology and nature reasonably separate, but like peanut butter and chocolate, some combinations turn out better than you'd think. In the latest in a long line of projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Yosemite National Park has installed over 2,800 solar panels in the El Portal maintenance complex, neatly hidden from the all seeing eyes of the public. The plenitude of photovoltaic plates will produce about 800,000 kWh per year, saving the park $50,000 annually on its power bill and scoring it $700,000 in rebates from PG&E over the next 5 years. The 5.8 million dollar system cuts the park's reliance on carbon fuels by 12 percent, and is now the largest grid-connected solar energy system in the National Park Service. Press release junkies can hit the break for the official announcement; solar fanatics looking for a better view should check out KCRA's coverage in the links below.
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Yosemite National Park Unveils Largest Solar Energy System in the National Park System

Date: July 27, 2011

$5.8 Million Photovoltaic Project in El Portal Grid Connected
and Producing Power

Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher led a ribbon cutting ceremony today, July 27, to dedicate the El Portal Photovoltaic Project. Neubacher was joined by representatives from the offices of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Congressman Jeff Denham (R-19th), Mariposa County Supervisor Lee Stetson, contractors, and National Park Service staff. The event dedicated the largest grid-connected photovoltaic system within the National Park Service (NPS).

The photovoltaic system at the El Portal complex is the largest NPS-managed photovoltaic project with the Pacific West Region and the largest grid-connected photovoltaic system owned and operated by the NPS. The 672 kilowatt (KW) system consists of 2,800 solar panels and produces approximately 800,000 kilowatt hours (KWh) per year. The park estimates 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.

"The collaborative effort to design and build this system has come to fruition and we are extremely proud of the results," Stated Neubacher. "We are committed to being a leader in renewable energy and this project exemplifies our efforts."

The project was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment act and cost $5.8 million. Construction of the system was completed in February 2011 and the interconnection agreement with PG&E was signed in late June 2011.

The El Portal Maintenance and Administrative Complex is located at the western edge of Yosemite National Park adjacent to Highway 140. The facility includes park offices, vehicle maintenance facility, the park warehouse, and other park operations. The location was chosen for the photovoltaic project due to the high amount of direct sunlight the site receives.
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