Solar plan is flawed

To the Editor:

As many of the paper’s readers are aware, the town council of Bar Harbor held one of its regular meetings on April 21. At this meeting, a representative of Revision Energy of Portland was invited to address the council to explain their project to mount solar panels on the roof of the newly built salt storage facility, a town-owned structure on Crooked Road. This idea is being promoted by councilor Gary Freidman to supply nine private homes in the Bar Harbor area with solar power.

Before this idea comes to pass, the people of the town should be made aware of various aspects of the plan that were not adequately presented to the town at the time of the council meeting. The council voted 4 to 2 in favor of the proposal.

The salt shed, costing $240,000, is designed with a semispherical roof to enable it to easily shed snow loads in the winter and disperse high wind loadings at any time. The roof was cleverly designed. To keep costs down, it is supported by laminated wooden beams internally located so as to have no direct contact with the corrosive salt. The roof itself is of thin corrugated steel painted with a high quality marine paint. The corrugated iron sheeting is 29 gauge of 0.0136 inches or the thickness of three average adult hairs laid side by side.

All roofs are not designed the same. This is a great design for compressive loads; it is not designed to carry external structures or loads.

Once installed, corrugated steel should not be penetrated by new, unplanned holes for screws, bolts or similar fasteners, as these will render the corrugating ineffective and the metal will self-collapse due to internal erosion.

The roof, well designed to cope with the known loads and stresses, is not designed to carry the external weight of an unknown number of solar panels. These panels might easily create a wind speed increase as the wind passes between the roof and the underside of the solar panels. This is known as Bernoulli’s principal. This would tend to pull or lift the panels of the existing, light-weight roof and would severely damage it.

A number of workmen would be required to work on the installation of the panels, exposing the roof to construction damage.

In short, this is a very poorly thought through idea. It is lamentable that the council voted for it without reviewing engineering drawings, engineering calculations, etc. Is the town so wealthy it can throw away hundreds of thousands of dollars?

I am an advocate for forms of green energy where they are properly thought through and benefit all.

Michael J. Blythe

Salisbury Cove


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