Yosemite Will Install Solar Panels for Largest Grid-Connected Photovoltaic System in the National Park System

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Date: May 17, 2010

Beginning in June Yosemite National Park will install a large-scale solar panel project at El Portal that will accommodate a 539-kilowatt photovoltaic generation system with $4.4 million received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Once built, this will be the largest grid-connected photovoltaic system in the National Park System.  Upon completion of the project, the park will double the electricity produced through renewable energy for the Pacific West Region of the National Park Service, which consists of 58 sites.
“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,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.  
“We are very excited about this project and grateful that the Recovery Act funding became available for us to begin the installation this summer,” said Yosemite National Park 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. 
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. This $4.4 million project, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is a design-build contract and was awarded to Paragon Industrial Applications of Atascadero, California. 
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.  The construction is slated to begin in June 2010.
The ARRA funds are part of a stimulus package that is an important component of the President's plan to jumpstart the economy and put a down payment on addressing existing challenges so the country can thrive in the 21st century.  Under the ARRA, Interior is making an investment in conserving America's timeless treasures – our stunning natural landscapes, our monuments to liberty, the icons of our culture and heritage – while helping American families and their communities prosper again. Interior is also focusing on renewable energy projects, the needs of American Indians, employing youth and promoting community service.
“With its investments of Recovery Act funds, the Department of the Interior and its bureaus are putting people to work today to make improvements that will benefit the environment and the region for many years to come,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said.
Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department’s economic recovery projects.  The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on www.recovery.gov and on www.interior.gov/recovery. Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force to work closely with Interior’s Inspector General and ensures the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency set by President Obama.

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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