Utility keeping finished solar projects on hold

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 @ 09:01 AM
posted by rene5432

Several federal agencies in California have faced difficulty completing their solar power installations because of opposition raised by one of the state's two largest utility companies, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The National Park Service and other agencies have been required by federal law to meet certain reductions on their carbon footprint. One of the most popular approaches to this goal is to add solar power systems to buildings as a means of reducing carbon emissions while simultaneously saving on electricity bills.

Death Valley National Park added an $800,000 solar power installation two years ago, while similar installations have been made at Santa Monica Mountains and facilities belonging to the Veterans Administration and the Department of the Navy.

None have been able to be turned on, however, because Southern California Edison has proven unwilling to sign a contract connecting the systems to the grid that would follow the unusual tort process needed for federal agencies. These organizations cannot open themselves to unspecified liabilities because of the budgeting process.

"We are purchasing electricity from SCE, whereas we could be using renewable energy from the sun and returning power to the grid," park superintendent Woody Smeck told the Times.

In the meantime, California has continued to see rising electricity prices. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that average rates rose to 13.99 cents per kilowatt-hour through September of 2011, from 13.16 cents per kilowatt-hour the previous year.

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