Where better to set up solar panels than California’s Death Valley? The sun’s always shining and from May to September the temperature doesn’t stray much below a whopping 100 degrees Fahrenheit.Yet even in Death Valley government-funded solar projects are floundering. The L.A. Times has the story:
A new $800,000 solar project at Death Valley National Park, photovoltaic panels at the state-of-the art visitors center at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and a solar power system at the U.S. Forest Service’s new facility at Mono Lake are among dozens of taxpayer-funded projects in Southern California on hold as the federal agencies try to hash out an agreement with SCE to tie the projects to the state’s electrical grid.
The apparent stumbling block involves contract restrictions imposed by federal law, but utilities elsewhere in California have signed similar agreements with the agencies with few problems or delays.
According to the article, the solar panels in Death Valley have been unplugged for at least two-and-a-half years due to the various agencies tripping over one another.The article ends with a reassurance: “The 2,800 solar panels should produce approximately 800,000 kilowatt-hours per year. Yosemite officials estimate the system will save $50,000 per year on electricity bills and generate an energy rebate of $700,000 from PG&E over the next five years.” Maybe, but the government will need a permit to flick the “on” switch first, and given the delays and staff time consumed in the dozens of inter agency meetings and other bureaucratic hurdle jumping associated with this project, it is very unlikely that a green project plus red tape will ever produce a project that runs in the black.And in the meantime, one has to wonder: if the wrangling, process crazed bureaucrats wrestling with the conflicting, nonsensical regulations and requirements issued by various state, local and federal bureaucracies can’t work out reasonable solutions to the relatively simple question involved in a no-brain solar installation in the desert, what chance is there that these same bureaucracies will redesign the American energy grid and take us to the low carbon utopia that always seems just out of reach?