Renewable Energy Projects Remain Under-Utilized In California

A years-long disagreement between a California power company and the federal government has delayed renewable energy projects intended to help provide power to facilities in California’s national parks and forests. The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agencies have spent three years trying to work out an agreement with Southern California Edison (SCE) to connect the project with 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.

“There’s 24-plus systems in the Southern California Edison area that have been installed in the last three years that we have not been able to negotiate an interconnection agreement on,” said Jack Williams, who retired this month as the National Park Service’s Oakland-based regional facilities manager. […]

The impasse has hindered the parks’ ability to meet renewable energy goals at a time when federal agencies are rushing to comply with orders to reduce carbon footprints. Equally troubling, officials say, is the financial fallout: a projected saving of tens of thousands of dollars from utility bills hasn’t been realized during the two years the park service and forest service have been negotiating with Edison.

Millions of dollars have been invested in renewable energy projects, like an $800,000 solar project at Death Valley National Park, that remain used while the parks instead continue to buy Energy from SCE. Parks officials at Death Valley told the LA Times that they hoped the project would cut an estimated $31,828 from an annual electric bill of $45,724, a 70 percent drop in energy cost. “It is disappointing to see this big investment sitting idle when we could easily flip the switch and produce benefits,” said park superintendent Woody Smeck.

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