Solar Panels on Historic Properties: Avoiding Impact on a Cultural Landscape

San Juan Island National Historical Park, Washington

It can be extremely difficult to find an appropriate location for solar panels for large historic sites where the cultural landscape is as important as the historic structures. The National Park Service found an innovative solution to such a problem at San Juan Island NHP in Washington state by partnering with a local utility company to create a renewable energy system off site. The utility company provided land at a customer service center, and the park purchased and installed a photovoltaic system. Under the agreement, the park is credited with the energy production of the solar panels, and visitors still enjoy the National Historical Park without the visual intrusion of modern–day technology.

pole-mounted array of solar panels

Locating solar arrays off–site allowed for the preservation of the historic character of the buildings and cultural landscape as well as the important vistas within San Juan Island National Historical Park.

small building in a field landscape

This large solar array serves the National Historical Park, but it is located outside park boundaries.

Last updated: November 4, 2022