Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stolen solar panels hurt Pacifica school

By Joshua Melvin
San Mateo County Times

Updated: 04/25/2010 12:08:37 AM PDT

A plan to cut energy costs at Oceana High School was less than two months from going online.

Workers had already attached 108 cells, worth about $43,700, to the roof of the building. And officials from the Jefferson Union High School District were looking forward to a little budget relief.

But sometime in the past month thieves got onto the roof, unhooked the cells and carried them off. So now the district has to start all over again.

"It's a setback," said project manager Bob Devine.

Finding who took the panels could be tough. It's not clear exactly when they disappeared. Police think it was sometime between March 24 and April 5, said Pacifica police Sgt. Dan Steidle. The school was empty while students were away on spring break from April 5 to 9.

A lucrative black market that would readily absorb the panels won't make finding them any easier. Stealing solar panels has become a growth industry in California as the installation of the green-energy producers has exploded, said Marc Feyh, a manager at Santa Rosa-based GridLock Solar Security.


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