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The Rise Of Shiny: Solar Projects In Montecito Heights, Eagle Rock Get High Voltage Attention

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(Photo by Abi Skipp via Flickr)

(Photo by Abi Skipp via Flickr)
After shutting down construction on a Montecito Heights solar project in September due to concerns about fire safety and aesthetics, City Council plans to revisit the issue on Wednesday with a report that assesses potential risks posed by installing the 1,400 hillside panels.

In Eagle Rock, a solar array more than three times that size has been given the preliminary $7.7 million spending green-light by Occidental College's Board of Trustees. If constructed, the 5,000-panel, on-campus, panel field could be one of the largest solar arrays in Los Angeles.

The Eastsider reports Montecito Heights city fire marshal Jimmy Hill has concerns about the safety of the Debs Park-adjacent project, "High voltage shock hazard is constant during daylight hours. If water is applied to extinguish an adjacent or nearby fire, the hazards to Firefighters are exacerbated since PV [photo voltaic] systems components may be compromised by extreme temperatures encountered in fire conditions.”

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Occidental Magazine asserts the the installation of 5,000 solar panels would generate 1.1 megawatt of power and cut the college’s annual energy bill by $250,000. Regarding time line, college spokesman Jim Tranquada remarked, “Our project is still in development — nothing has been submitted to the city yet... When it is ready, we will follow our standard practice of presenting it to neighborhood councils and other local groups,” reports The Eastsider.