The largest solar energy complex in the National Park System will be built just outside Yosemite National Park and, when operational, will essentially double the amount of electricity generated via renewable energy for the National Park Service's Pacific West Region.
The grid-connected 539-kilowatt photovoltaic generation system that will be built near El Portal, California, beginning in June is being paid for with $4.4 million the Park Service received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“This project exemplifies how Yosemite, the Pacific West region, the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior and the President are trying to lead the way in making our facilities climate-friendly,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a prepared statement.
“We are very excited about this project and grateful that the Recovery Act funding became available for us to begin the installation this summer,” added Yosemite Superintendent Don Neubacher. “This energy-saving photovoltaic project reflects Yosemite National Park’s commitment to sustainable and renewable energy sources.”
The rooftop and shade-structure mounted solar panels, to be installed beginning this summer at the El Portal Maintenance Complex, are expected to generate approximately 800,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. This will result in almost a 12 percent savings on electricity purchased off the grid, the Park Service said.
El Portal, the park’s administrative center, was chosen as the location for the solar panels based on the high amount of direct sunlight the site receives.
The solar panels will be installed on the roofs of existing buildings and on newly constructed shade structures in which government vehicles will be parked under. At 13 cents per kilowatt hour, the park is projecting a savings of up to $104,000 per year.