Are 200,000 individual 5-by-2.5-ft solar panels on telephone poles ugly or beautiful? A project in New Jersey divides a community.
The New York Times had a dispiriting story a few weeks ago about the “gasps of ‘eyesore’” that followed when a utility company started mounting 200,000 individual 5-by-2.5-foot solar panels on telephone poles in suburban New Jersey streets.
“I hate them,” said one resident to the Times, which likened the effort to “a massive Christo project but without the advance publicity.” Others called the overhanging panels “ugly” and “hideous.”
Public Service Electric and Gas Company’s solar installations are “the first and most extensive of their kind in the country” says the Times, and “part of a $515 million investment in solar projects by PSE&G under a state mandate that by 2021 power providers get 23 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.”
However, as negative as people seemed to be in the story, many of the over 500 comments posted online tell another story — one of not just acceptance, but enthusiasm. Here are excerpts from some postings:
- “You know what’s an eyesore, suburban New Jersey? Having your mountaintop blown up and dumped in your stream. Having a hydraulic fracturing well set up shop next door to you. Living a quarter-mile from an aging coal-fired or nuclear power plant. . . I’m as sensitive as they come about aesthetics, but get over it people.”
- “My family lives on a pleasant tree-lined street in a central New Jersey town, and we are thrilled that even this token solar project is being implemented on such a wide scale. I wouldn’t want a coal or nuclear plant next door, but a few small solar panels attached to utility poles? YIMBY – Yes, in my back yard.”
- “I’m filled with pride when I see the panels dotting my street and town. New Jersey is leading the way in addressing global warming and sustainability. New Jersey is visibly working on leaving the planet in better shape for my son.”
- “Suburban New Jersians take note: a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds that solar panels INCREASE property values (in California). Seeing solar panels around certainly makes me feel like I’m in a forward-looking neighborhood.”
- “The most intelligent among us will be lobbying for tax credits or some other such financial aid to allow homeowners to purchase and install solar panels and perhaps wind turbines (if they are not disruptive) to get off the grid as much as possible. The homeowners will thus be able to have a say in the aesthetics, and the power company will not reap ALL the benefits. I would be thrilled if LIPA was aggressively pursuing solar in my area, but even more thrilled if I could do it myself.”
- “I would be ecstatic if my power company did something like this. We need it. I am going to offer them space on my property today to do something similar. This kind of action needs to become the new normal.”