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Palo Alto looks to garages for solar power

Original post made on Apr 7, 2014

As Palo Alto continues to explore building new garages to address downtown's gaping parking shortage, officials are also looking at existing parking structures to fulfill a completely different goal: electricity.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 7, 2014, 9:37 AM

Comments (12)

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Posted by JanN
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2014 at 11:29 am

Really GOOD IDEA!!
Bravo, for the parking lots high up!

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Posted by Mark
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 7, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Yes, yes, yes... and up and out of direct view, 'great' sites for mining local green power for Palo Alto. Even with the height, I hope the RFP has a design and aesthetics variable to go with each structure. Solar canopies can be a bit plain, yet some Companies' designs are quite attractive. Might Stanford get the message for the Shopping Center Structures?

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Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 7, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Whoever wrote this story ought to learn the difference between power and energy.

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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2014 at 5:21 pm

I still find it amazing that Palo Alto spent millions on new school buildings and not a single one has Solar Photovoltaics to offset the power bill. Why? How about the new libraries?

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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2014 at 6:07 pm

So where are these solar panels supposed to be installed on these garages? On the otherwise empty roofs, on the side of the buildings, or on new supports that would have to be constructed somewhere on the buildings?

And just how much power is suppose to be generated from a city-owned garage? Enough to power a few homes, perhaps?

Got to wonder if this is not more of a propaganda ploy/distraction from the fact that these garages are not controlled by state-of-the-art systems that provide real time information to motorists about whether or not there are empty spots in the garage to be had.

Doesn't seem like a particularly good idea .. it looks a lot like the kind of gobbledygook that people used to read in Provada.

Got to wonder when this town will ever get good people elected to the City Council who will put an end to this silliness.

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Posted by UC Davis Grad
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 7, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Wondering? (what a misnomer, BTW) shows how there will always be those who will criticize any action taken by the Palo Alto city government. Never mind that placing solar panels in areas not otherwise used will be a benefit to the city.

I guess Wondering? would criticize Jesus of Nazareth for walking on water, instead of just swimming like everyone else.

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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2014 at 7:42 pm

> I guess Wondering? would criticize Jesus of
> Nazareth for walking on water

If it turned out that the aforesaid were using some sort of flotation device to con the faithful into believing that supernatural powers were involved in all of this water walking .. then you bet that criticism would be in order!

Palo Alto government is not offering anyone any information about the costs, or benefits, of this program .. and the Weekly isn't asking any questions of them--just shilling for them, as usual.

The downtown parking situation is a real mess. The Council is mostly at fault, with the Planning Department close behind, for approving all of these offices that are so clearly under-parked. And then they throw up some sort of diversion to elicit support from the wild-eyed environmentalists?

If you will remember, the City has offered this roof top solar program to local business for over a year, and there have been no takers? Why? Well, probably because it is a terrible idea. So--why should we cheer this project because it is on city-owned property? A bad idea is a bad idea, and this is just another bad idea,

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Posted by casey
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 7, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Can anyone explain why the city simply just doesn't buy solar panels, give their utilities crews the job of installing them, and keep ALL of the electricity generated???? The idea that the city has to find a contractor to do this is really absurd considering all the skilled utility employees the city employs, the city owned structures, and for heavens sake, the city operated utility company!

In my view, another wtf? moment in Palo Alto. By the way, how many city 'staff' workers does it take to review the potentially 120 applications/proposals?

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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2014 at 10:02 pm


Have you ever tried to get a Solar PV permit from Palo Alto? Would you rather have a contractor who is used to dealing with their requests and has the patience to wait 6 months or have newbie city employees cooling their heels while planning sits on their request?

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Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Great idea! All the public parking buildings should have solar panels on their roofs, as should city hall, libraries, schools, community centers, and all other public buildings. In this day and age, in such an energy-conscious city as Palo Alto, solar on public buildings should be a no-brainer. Solar-collecting glass windows, like SolarWindow, in public buildings would be great, too.

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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2014 at 9:47 am

> All the public parking buildings should have
> solar panels on their roofs

Everything has a cost. Before you start running around claiming this is a no brainer, you really need to put a business model together that considers all of the costs, and the benefits. The city has several panels over near the Corporation Yard, on Highway 101.

Web Link
• Municipal Service Center (MSC): Located on East Bayshore Road off Highway 101, this 75 kilowatt project is notable because of its solar trackers, which follow the sun. This results in almost a 50% greater ability to capture solar energy than non-tracking projects nearby.

• Cubberley Community Center: The Cubberley Community Center, located in South Palo Alto, has been home to a wide variety of recreational activities for over 20 years. It is also the site of the largest of three city-funded solar projects. In 2008, a 117 kilowatt rooftop photovoltaic system was installed to generate electricity and protect classrooms from sun and rain.
What’s noticeable via its absence is the cost/kilowatt-hour of this source of energy that the Utility keeps championing. The idea that we are “energy conscious” and totally blind to the costs of this energy speaks volumes about the lack of basic financial skills of many people who seem to think that the Pied Piper makes wonderful music with his flute—so why shouldn’t every one follow him—no matter where he goes?

There needs to be a solid business case for this technology before a penny is spent on it.

It would also be nice if the cost of electricity were to come down because of all of this free solar power. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case—since the Utility seems to have assumed the role of some sort of social engineering proctor—punishing people who want to use energy in this town.

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Posted by Passchendaele
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 8, 2014 at 10:11 am

The cheap, Chinese PVC panels are cheesy and short-lived. Please, please do not buy American or European panels instead. Sure, they cost more, but will not have to be replaced and will not harm roofing material!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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