Tuesday, December 15, 2009

HPC Questions Solar Panels

No trees will be harmed in the installation of solar panels. No birds will be able to nest on them.

Those were two questions resolved at Tuesday's Historic Preservation Commission meeting, where PSE&G representative Eileen Leahey appeared to discuss the recent launch of Solar4All, a program to capture solar energy and reduce energy costs. The November appearance of the panels on poles in historic districts set off a flurry of concern among some preservationists who found them ugly and intrusive.

Leahey appeared twice before the City Council this month and agreed to meet with the HPC to answer questions, but her e-mailed request Friday for specifics in advance of Tuesday's meeting went unanswered. On Tuesday, Leahey explained that the project received approvals from the Bureau of Public Utilities in July and publicized it. But locally, the first reaction came over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Commission members posed several questions Tuesday for which Leahey promised answers by e-mail Friday or Monday.

Among the questions:
- Could the panels be placed higher on the poles in order to be less visible?
- How have other municipalities with historic districts responded to the program?
- What is the construction of the panels?
- How is PSE&G addressing possible vandalism?
- How are locations determined?

As far as trees are concerned, none will be trimmed to accommodate the panels and birds can't nest on them because they are set on an angle.

Resident Carol Bicket asked how long the 5 -by 2/1/2-foot, 60-pound panels will last and also asked, "Why are they so big?"

Bicket said in a few years "they will probably be consolidating them like a micro-chip."

Leahey concluded by commending the HPC for its mission to preserve the city's history and beauty.

City staffer Scott Bauman suggested that Leahey explore the possibility of doing outreach through the advocacy group Preservation New Jersey to municipalities and historic preservation commissions on the solar panel program, which calls for initial installation of 200,000 panels statewide to provide renewable energy.

--Bernice Paglia


Blogger Wil said...

I was at the HPC meeting, and at no time did I hear Ms. Leahey say trees would not be trimmed. In addition, The Shade Tree Commission will be planting trees on our streets. Will we not get trees planted near any installed PSE&G solar panels? And if they are planted, do we have a guarantee in writing from PSE&G that they will not hack-trim the trees as they already do? In 5 years when the 5'X2.5' panels are obsolete will PSE&G remove them at their cost?

9:09 AM  

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