LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Outlook bleak for solar panels


Whitman College has now made public the electrical production of the solar panels on the roof of the Bratton Tennis Center, and it is painfully obvious that the outlook for solar power in this area is well to the dark side of bleak.

The cumulative output over the longest, sunniest day of mid-summer was 128 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is worth about 5 dollars. Granted, that's more electricity than you would have had without covering the roof with solar panels. So, congratulations, your $250,000 project will pay for itself in about 125 years, assuming there's never, ever, a cloud in the sky over that period.

Covering this large roof, Whitman College reports, has reduced the energy consumption of the building under this roof by 20 percent. Again, congratulations. This means that if you were to cover the entire town of Walla Walla with solar panels, then the poor people living under those roofs would only spend 80 percent of their time freezing in the dark. Good grief! Remove the roofs completely, and you would only be cold and dark 50 percent of the time!

My generation of Whitman students had a greener idea. We played tennis in the daytime without a roof and the sun would light the courts for free.

Jim Thorn



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