Solar energy making headway locally

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webmaster | 04/18/12
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Madera and Madera County are moving right along when it comes to solar energy.

If you drive around town, you will notice residential rooftops that have been outfitted with solar-cell panels, which generate electricity directly from the sun. These homes get most if not all of their electricity from these panels — at least they do when the sun is shining.

Many of these homes have an arrangement with PG&E, whereby the utility buys excess power from the rooftops, then provides power when the sun goes down or the day is cloudy.

Several months ago, Madera Community Hospital installed a large solar array on property near the hospital to help offset some of that institution’s not-insignificant electrical costs.

Prior to that, the City of Madera installed a large farm of solar cells at the sewage-treatment plant, and that has resulted in a lowering of electricity costs.

After that, the city installed solar panels on top of the John W. Wells Youth Center.

Now comes news that Madera County plans to install the largest solar plant in the county, near the Department of Corrections campus of buildings that will lower energy costs for the jail and the sheriff’s department.

Finally, the county intends to install solar panels atop a yet-to-be-built shade structure on top of the five-story parking garage adjacent to the County Administration Building.

Ashu Jain, senior business development manager for Chevron Energy Solutions, said those two locations would provide maximum efficiency for solar power. Jain, a professional engineer, said solar arrays are best situated where they get no shade. That’s because if one part of a solar panel in an array is shaded, all the other cells in that array reduce output to match the shaded part.

These solar installations aren’t doing as well as their promoters claimed they would, but they are doing better than skeptics predicted. All in all, they’re a good thing for the city and county.

 

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