Woodside nixes solar-panel plan

The dustbin is now the official resting place for plans to spend some $100,000 to put solar panels on the roof of the Woodside Town Hall. The plans have been on hold for about two budget years as town staff waited for the economy to stabilize and a state or federal incentive of extra funding to materialize.

The Town Council voted unanimously on Sept. 14 -- with Mayor Dave Burow and Councilman Peter Mason absent -- to do as a staff report recommended: scrap the plans because the technology has not met staff hopes of becoming a more cost-effective investment.

Better to replace the antiquated and ineffective heating and air conditioning systems in Town Hall and Independence Hall (where the town's deliberative bodies meet), Town Engineer Paul Nagengast told the council.

By its vote, the council also approved spending $25,000 to replace the Town Hall roof, a long-planned companion project that can be done before the rains set in, Mr. Nagengast added.

The staff report suggested the use of more efficient lighting and the unplugging of equipment not needed to be on during non-working hours.

Reducing electrical demand is a better approach, Councilman Dave Tanner said. Solar panels, while a great idea, don't pencil out financially, he said.

Councilwoman Deborah Gordon asked Mr. Nagengast to continue to monitor the progress of solar energy technology. "I don't want to just give up," she said.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 22, 2010 at 12:33 pm

"Solar panels, while a great idea, don't pencil out financially, "


Makes me wonder, why do newly built gas stations have panels on top of them? The extraction industry understands the need to take advantage of the sun, why can't Woodside make the numbers work?

'tis a riddle...

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Posted by Anonymous-Woodside Mom
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Sep 22, 2010 at 1:27 pm

I put solar on my roof about 5 years ago, and it's now paid for itself. AND I don't have an electricity bill anymore. I've only had to do one repair, and it was covered under warrantee. Are we sure that someone did proper research?

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Woodside Mom:

I'm betting you got some subsidies when you put your panels on, no? Many of those programs have gone away. Also a commercial installation is a different animal from residential.

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Posted by David Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Sep 22, 2010 at 4:10 pm

David Boyce is a registered user.

Another factor: As a non-tax-paying entity, the town of Woodside is not eligible for incentives in the same way that private citizens or corporations are, according to town staff.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 22, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Thanks for the points.

That still doesn't jibe with what we see out here. There's a number of high schools in San Jose that have covered their parking lots with panels, like Andrew Hill.

They don't get tax breaks, do they?

Again: I have to wonder who wielded the pencil in these calculations, if schools, gas stations and so many others make it profitable.

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Posted by panel owner
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Sep 22, 2010 at 6:36 pm

OK, what about all the companies that will install the panels and "lease" them to you or less than the cost of the electricity you would be buying??

Oil companies have bought into panels. They are buying up the companies that produce them. They won't be giving up control of our energy any time soon.

Find a local CALIFORNIA company and find a way to make the numbers work. A good part of the cost goes into paying a wage to a CALIFORNIAN and not just wasted energy.

Sure... they should also be more efficient!

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