Roadside solar panels nabbed

September 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Thieves grabbed solar panels from an array along Route 44 in Carver for the third time in a week, said cops who suspect the energy-generating devices are being sold on the black market.

Two panels were stolen Thursday night from the solar array located along the busy highway. The solar collectors provide power from the sun to the North Carver Water District treatment plant. The theft brings the number of solar panels stolen in the past week to 25, Carver Police Chief Michael Miksch said.

“They went through a cut fence and it appears they got two (solar panels),” Miksch said. “We are not sure if a vehicle scared them away or not.”

The first theft was reported Aug. 31, when five solar panels were stolen, he said. The second theft was reported on Monday, Miksch said.

The solar panels can easily be carried by one person and are worth about $500 each, Miksch said. He suspects the thieves are reselling or scrapping them.

A black market for solar panels “is apparently new to the Northeast, but if you go online, California has had a black market in the past,” Miksch said. “They could be selling whole panels to customers or clients, such as other contractors. Or they may be scrapping them.”

The solar panels belong to SolareAmerica LLC, who is contracted to sell electricity to the North Carver Water District, Miksch said. SolareAmerica LLC could not be reached for comment.

The solar array was built this past summer using a $150,000 grant from the Department of Energy Resources, said state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs spokesman Reginald Zimmerman, the first time in the state that a solar array was installed beside a divided highway. He said it provided 99 kilowatts of energy.

“This is an isolated incident and is not representative of other solar projects,” Zimmerman said of the thefts.

The Carver police chief said town and state police are increasing security on the highway next to the solar array.

“The owner of the system is working on increasing security and we will be helping him with that,” Miksch said.

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