Giants To Install Solar Panels At Ballpark

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Giants have gone green. AT&T Park will be the first Major League ballpark to generate green power for utility customers. PG&E is installing solar panels around the ballpark perimeter. The power generated will go to regular PG&E customers.

Five hundred-ninety solar panels will eventually be installed at AT&T Park. A computer-generated image shows what it will look like along McCovey Cove.

In the scheme of the state's power needs, they won't generate much -- enough to power the ballpark's scoreboard for a year or about 35 typical California homes. But it is a first for a ballpark, and the biggest among sports venues.

David Hochschild, Solar Advocate: "This is the largest solar power stadium in the United States. It's taking over a title that was held by the Staples Center in Los Angeles."

The 120 megawatts produced here will go back into the state's power grid to be used by PG&E's customers.

For now, the utility is putting up the estimated $1.5 million dollars for installation. In two or three years, if the state's Public Utilities Commission approves, the cost will be passed on to the ratepayers.

But PG&E CEO Tom King says $1.5 million dollars spread out over 15 million customers doesn't amount to much.

Tom King, PG&E CEO: "It'll translate into a hundredth of a cent way out in the decimal point."

And King says, even if it were more expensive it would be worth it.

Tom King: "More importantly, our customers are telling us this is what we want you to do. We want you to increase renewables and spend much more effort on focusing how renewables are going to increase the overall portfolio."

Matt Freedman, TURN: "PG&E ratepayers are paying for PG&E and AT&T and the San Francisco Giants to get good corporate PR."

Utility watchdog group, TURN, thinks any cost to the ratepayer, no matter how small, is too much if the rules haven't been followed. It believes the utility improperly left consumer and environmental groups out of the planning process.

Matt Freedman: "We absolutely support PG&E buying green power for its customers, but it should be getting the best deal. It shouldn't be playing favorites and picking winners based on good PR opportunities."

PG&E insists it has followed all the rules. The panels should all be in by early July.

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