Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Irony Alert in Contra Costa County: Solar Company Hates Trees

It might not match the furor over the Solyndra bankruptcy, but environmentalists in Contra Costa County are seething over the latest evil perpetrated on Mother Earth by a private company. Ironically enough, the company in question isn't a farm, or a big land developer, or an oil, logging, or mining interest. According to the Contra Costa Times, it's actually a solar-panel company now being accused of a crime against nature.

The firm in question, Main Street Power of Boulder, CO, was hired by the Board of Supervisors in 2010 to install solar panels on and around eleven county buildings. While the board signed off on a 20-year agreement to buy the power produced by the panels, it left the details of the project up to staff, none of whom still work for the county. One of the sites was the county jail, which sits next to a popular regional park near Pinole. In order to make room for the solar installation, Main Street apparently chopped down about 100 eucalyptus trees near the park's entrance. After this created an uproar (which is itself ironic, since eucalyptus aren't native to California and themselves represent an act of landscaping), the county ordered all work at the site halted. Now, the Board is demanding that the firm redesign the solar setup and restore a tree buffer between the jail and the park. Main Street has thus far refused to pay for this additional work, and is considering suing Contra Costa County over it.


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