A Solar Future: Yosemite National Park Taps Into Sun Power

Sal holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
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A sun-powered rainbow at Yosemite's Bridalveil Falls. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters

Half Dome, El Capitan, Mirror Lake, Sentinel Dome, Glacier Point, Toulumne Meadows—California’s Yosemite National Park is home to some of America’s most idyllic natural beauty. Now, thanks to $4.4 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it will be home to the largest solar energy grid in the U.S. National Park System.

Paragon Industrial Applications, a California company, will begin construction in June on a 539-kilowatt photovoltaic electric system. Solar panels will be built in two places—on various existing buildings and on the top of a soon-to-be-built shade structure, under which cars will be parked. Officials estimate the project will save the park around $104,000 per year. Better still? Yosemite’s reliance on grid-electricity will be cut by up to 12 percent.

“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 in a written statement.

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