The PJ Tatler

Solar panels uglify New Jersey neighborhoods

Aggressive green initiative sends “eyesores” up power poles.

“I hate them,” Mr. Olsen, 40, said of the row of panels attached to electrical poles across the street. “It’s just an eyesore.”

Around the corner lives Tom Trobiano, 61, a liquor salesman, now adapting to the lone solar panel hanging over his driveway. “When it’s up close,” he said, “the panel takes on a life of its own.”

Like a massive Christo project but without the advance publicity, installations have been popping up across New Jersey for about a year now, courtesy of New Jersey’s largest utility, the Public Service Electric and Gas Company. Unlike other solar projects tucked away on roofs or in industrial areas, the utility is mounting 200,000 individual panels in neighborhoods throughout its service area, covering nearly three-quarters of the state.

So they’re ugly. At least customers are getting a price break out of harvesting the sunlight, right?

PSE&G officials said solar energy was still more expensive to produce than more traditional power sources and acknowledged that bills were going up 29 cents a month. Each panel produces 220 watts of power, enough to brighten about four 60-watt light bulbs for about six weeks. When complete, this project is expected to provide half of the 80 megawatts of electricity needed to power 6,500 homes.