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Long Beach Parking Lots Get Their Day in the Sun

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Slowly we've seen man replaced by the machine, but at 3 parking lots in Long Beach they're powering the machines with a force even more powerful: the sun! According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the LBC's "Redevelopment Agency has replaced the honor boxes at three downtown lots with solar-powered pay stations." These units run on the energy generated by "a solar panel that's placed on top of the pay station." Even better yet, these machines (which cost the Agency $51,000) allow parking lot patrons to pay via cash, coin, or debit card in exchange for the little ticket you leave on your dashboard.

But why stop at small panels to power only the parking pay stations? To the north of us in the Bay Area, the smarts of using solar panels to power more than just the pay stations in places abundant in dark asphalt makes perfect sense. SFGate explains:

Parking lots in asphalt-rich cities have great solar potential because the panels can be oriented to optimize power production during summer afternoons when electricity is most valuable. Google, for example, has installed solar canopies on its parking lots to satisfy 30 percent of its headquarters' power demand.
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The power generated by the panels can potentially power area buildings, and as an added bonus, the solar canopies can shade the parked cars. "What can cities do to increase the use of parking lots for solar power production?" asked the SFGate last fall. "One option is to incorporate solar panels into the parking requirements for commercial developments." The solar-powered pay stations at 4th Street and Pacific Avenue, at 7th Street and Pacific and at Long Beach Boulevard and Broadway in Long Beach are a start.Photo of a Long Beach solar-powered parking station by mjmonty via Flickr