Energy

Locals Not Happy With Massive Solar Panels Built In Neighborhood Without Warning

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Local residents are livid over a California school district’s decision to erect solar panels a few feet away from their homes, creating what they describe as a massive eyesore.

“The big objection is that the school board did not notify people affected by this program,” Richard Cottle, a neighbor living within the Palo Alto Unified School District, stated to KPIX 5. Cottle was referring to the construction of solar panels right next door to his home. He is joined by numerous homeowners who voiced frustration over the lack of warning of the solar installation.

The Palo Alto School District — in an attempt to be more environmentally friendly — has constructed solar panels at five different campuses, with plans for an installment at a sixth school. However, residents claim they were not made aware of the plans until construction began in June.

Neighbors lashed out during a Palo Alto school board meeting on Tuesday night, detailing their disgust of having to look at solar panels at all times while at home.

“I see them out my window when I wake up in the morning. I see them looming over me when I sit at my kitchen table,” said Laurie Ostacher, a homeowner living close by. “I was not consulted on the decision to place the panels on the fields next to my home.” (RELATED: Residents Are Worried A Solar Array Could HURT The Environment)

“It’s like a big, black tarp was put up on top of the fence. It looks like I’m living under a sports stadium bleacher,” said Ann Davidson, Ostacher’s next-door neighbor. Another resident at the meeting said the panels looked like “a giant spaceship” hovering over her property.

Beyond complaining about the ugliness of the panels, neighbors are asking why they were never notified ahead of time. Don Austin, the school district’s new superintendent, said plans were already underway before he entered office in July, but he did admit that efforts to inform neighbors were executed poorly.

Neighbors are asking that the panels be moved to a different location, away from their line of sight. Austin said he wants to find a solution that satisfies neighbors while still allowing the school district to keep the solar installation.

Santa Clara County, where Hillary Clinton won with over 60 percent of the vote in 2016, is a notable Democratic bastion. The town of Palo Alto is represented by Democrats at the congressional, state Senate and state House level. It is likely that residents will only be seeing more solar and wind energy projects. The California legislature is expected to vote on a 100 percent clean energy bill as soon as September, with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown widely expected to sign before leaving office.

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