$100,000 Vandalism Slows Huge LA County Solar Project ($25,000 Reward)

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It’s not all high-fives and fist bumps in the effort to bring solar power to communities. Antelope Valley Solar Rance One (AVSR1) in Los Angeles County has suffered yet another setback: $100,000 worth of vandalism.

Solar panels in field via Shutterstock 

A 300-ft copper transmission cable and high-density polyethylene water pipe, both located about 2.5 miles from the project site, were cut. The damage to the transmission line, which was connected to the Southern California Edison Whirlwind substation, is the more costly repair because the entire cable must be replaced.

The HDPE water pipe has already been repaired at minimal cost. First Solar, the company installing the panels at AVSR1, doesn’t know how much water leaked out of the slashed pipe.

The vandalism to the 230-megawatt solar power plant happened late July 9 or early July 10 by unidentified assailants. LA County officials are unsure of how many vandals were involved in the destruction.

AVSR1 is located on 2,100 acres of land previously used for farming. First Solar estimates that, when the project is completed in 2013, the PV plant will provide enough power for about 75,000 homes. No word on how long the project will be delayed due to the vandalism.

First Solar said it will be posting a $25,000 reward for the first person who can provide information that leads to the conviction of the party responsible for the damage.

AVSR1 has had 24-hour security since a robbery that occurred over New Year’s Eve, Project Manager Tony Perrino said. First Solar plans to add roving night-time security guards.

Additional stumbling blocks First Solar and AVSR1 have yet to overcome include residents’ dissatisfaction with landscaping plans; residents’ fears about fires and toxicity of film in the solar panels; a class action lawsuit filed by a dozen former employees.

Sources: Greentechmedia and First Solar

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