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Posted on Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 3 p.m.

Solar panel criticism seems to be 'huge fuss about nothing'

By Letters to the Editor

Yes, I expect to hear any minute now that the University of Michigan, in collaboration with northeast Ann Arbor residents, is preparing for a panel discussion of the solar panel issue currently foremost in the news from Ann Arbor. As a northeast Ann Arbor resident myself, I suppose that some of my neighbors would expect me to join with them in their cries of outrage against the solar panel installation, and against the U-M for having the nerve not to tell them!

However, I shall not associate myself with this outpouring of disapproval, because, quite frankly, I consider it a huge fuss about nothing!

The panels don't bother me at all, and as for being so critical of U-M, I was really delighted when they acquired the former Pfizer property, that otherwise could have still been vacant, and falling into disrepair.

To those driving on Plymouth Road who find the sight of the solar panels unbearable, I say, keep your eyes on the road, and stop gawking!

Stuart J. Baggaley

Ann Arbor



Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

Amazing, AA is so righteous, green and focused on zero carbon footprint, but when an initiative that they don't like occurs, they are all up in arms! NO, solar panels are not beautiful and windmills are big and imposing objects on our landscape. Cake or eat, pick one.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

That location seems prime for solar panels--unobstructed southern exposure. Let's see what kind of payback this array gets. I'm sure the university and DTE will be collecting data to find out. Depending upon the slope of the panels, the snow cover might cut down on the efficiency. What would the naysayers have preferred in there? Another commercial building, garish signage and parking lot?


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

Solar energy is such a hoax that all of your food has it's roots in power from the sun. Must be one of natures epic fails, right?


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

They could have more power with squirrels in hamster wheels.

Tom Whitaker

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 5:21 a.m.

Why not cover the roof of Oosterbaan with solar panels instead of taking out all those trees, flowers and grass along Plymouth Road?


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 4:16 a.m.

So to summarize Mr. Baggaley's very insightful "opinion" piece, "I don't mind the solar panels, therefore nobody else should either." Such hard-hitting journalism.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:37 a.m.

Ann Arbor gets a decent amount of sunshine... I'm cool with it. It can be in my backyard.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:04 a.m.

no one has said it's "unbearable" . Unless time proves otherwise,it really does not appear as though any space was left for any landscaping. There was a nice berm when Parke Davis/Pfizer was situated there. Just because there might be "nothing wrong" with it-would you want a runway or drag srip or concrete wall right up to the road? The mall on the other side has businesses that humans enter and transact with-socialize/shop/eat/bank/get services/etc. that's quite different from a large fixed installation that will be there forever..... and with a slightly different approach could have been installed so the site was more satisfactory for human beings taking in the view around and in their neighborhood. It's just lazy to tell everybody to forget about it....people's comments about their perceptions are provoking you..... I wonder more about that.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 1:34 a.m.

Get used to it. It takes about 60 square feet of panel to make 1 kilowatt of power. The panels make full power about 12 percent of the time in Michigan according to the National Renewable Energy Lab. So if you want 1 Kilowatt of power 24/7 you need about 8 Kilowatts of solar panels or about 480 square feet of them. The average Ann Arbor home uses a little more than 1.25 kilowatts per hour - 24/7 (1 Megawatt hour per month at 768 hours in a month). So you need about 600 square feet of solar panel per home. Given the number of high rises and office buildings, etc in town not all of this solar can go on the roof and many roofs are shaded by trees (which is a good thing in it own right for energy efficiency). So expect tens (hundreds, etc.) of thousands of square feet of solar panels to eventually fill the yards and open spaces in Ann Arbor, to meet the goals for green power that people are talking about.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 1:27 a.m.

I agree that the panels are fine. It doesn't seem like there are houses that overlook those panels, just businesses, so I'm not sure what the huge deal is. Plenty of those commercial strips are plenty ugly; this doesn't seem any worse.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:47 a.m.

Saint Peter will certainly be sending many to the down elevator for turning our great blue and green planet to a dull and dirty brown. Climate change is real folks, despite what Republicans say. The down elevator will be full of them.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 11:46 p.m.

Frankly, the panels are no worse and maybe even a whole lot more sightly than the new City Hall. More useful too...


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 11:03 p.m.

I've passed these numerous times coming from both directions. Right now it is January going in to February. Instead of the NIMBY syndrome, the consistent whining, and petty complaints about everything that might pop up anywhere in the within the freeway ring, stop and take a look at this for just 60 seconds. Then have a vision of what it "will" look like after a row of trees (A GOOD THICK MIXTURE OF COURSE) are placed in line behind these panels. No one will even know the panels are there. Ann Arbor want to be known as a smart city? Personally I view it that way as an outsider who works within the borders. Solar Energy has come a long way and is about to be the material that will be on the roof of your house when its time to replace the shingles. While I may not be around to see the full benefits as Solar Energy progresses and becomes sustainable, I know our future generations ar going to benefit from the studies and experiments that are being conducted with it in the present. How about being quiet for a while and possibly letting Ann Arbor be the model for the future direction of Solar Energy. Also remember without the U of M Ann Arbor would be nothing then a small town with a general store, a post office and a one man Police station. If that's what the whiners want there is a nice little city in Wyomng called Recluse. Whiners may fit in perfect there.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

Totally agree. The panels are ugly now but UM has already said they will add landscaping and we will hardly notice them.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

I like the idea that all the ground parking lots on UM properties are covered by these solar panels.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.

What is needed here to give the solar panels more eye appeal would be be to paint a giant "M"in color maize on the panels. I'm quite certain that with all the brainpower available at the U of M, a suitable coating could be applied for the M that would not block the sun's energy, Go blue!

Roger Kuhlman

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

These UM Solar panels are environmental tokenism and posturing at its worse. At present solar energy as a source of large scale energy is totally useless and a waste of scarce environmental funding. If you are more than a 'Bambi' environmentalist get educated about the utter failure that solar cells are in energy production. In the near future the problems with solar energy are nowhere close to being overcome.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

Worst opinion piece ever. BTW, what is a sola panel?


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

They don't wish to clutter the stadium with solar panels so they chose to erect a garish electronic billboard/distraction instead. Such a classy outfit.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

Not sure I know what a "Sola Panel" is....


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

typo in headline folks -- does anybody read these before they go up?


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.

Always someone challenging the "how" rather than getting the "how".


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 9:18 p.m.

You mean they aren't making panels from the Indian swamp plant (Aeschynomene indica)?


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

A solar panel installed atop my head could provide valuable power to my brain . . . UM: Can you please help?


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

The lawn in front of Angell Hall would be the perfect spot for solar panels.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 8:28 p.m.

Agree completely. A few squawkers getting a lot of attention and the vast majority saying it is better than more neon lights and fast food joints. I say if there is a bad player in this (for Sally Pederson) is Ann Arbor zoning that allowed Plymouth Road to be a continuous 3-mile strip mall. Shame on you, Ann Arbor!


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

Brad, whose fault is it that the U of M doesn't listen? Get more involved with city council and let them know your feelings. Maybe then council will stop acting with total autonomy and start representing the electorate.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.

The vast majority according to my polling which is every bit as good as Sally Pederson's polling which is who squawked in her ear. You just reinforced my point, and the point of the author. Knee jerk, knee jerk, knee jerk...


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

The "vast majority" according to what? We already know that UM doesn't care much about the opinions of city residents, but they should at least be smart enough to act like they do. If nothing else this is a big PR fail for no apparent reason.

Elijah Shalis

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

The Panels are badly placed and very ugly. U of M owns lots of property on the outskirts of Ann Arbor where they could have been installed.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

Why use valuable land when curbside is the perfect use. Lots of "ugly" permeates Plymouth Rd. get over it.