Solar Power National Forest

These days, it seems you can’t swing a javelina around here without hitting something powered by the sun. (Please don’t try this experiment; javelinas aren’t fond of being swung.)

That’s not a complaint; far from it, in fact. It’s just a little bit…overwhelming. Case in point: On Saturday I drove my 15-year-old son, Liam, to his first practice swim for the 2010 Alcatraz Challenge.Trying to get close to conditions similar to what the swimmer willencounter in San Fransisco Bay in April is impossible in Phoenix. Wehad to drive up into the mountains northeast of the city to BartlettLake in Tonto National Forest. The water temperature on Saturday wasperfect: a brisk 53°F — just about what swimmers can expect at Alcatraz.

Liam had finished his hour-long swim (they do wear wetsuits, by theway, but it’s still cold) and we had just started back to Phoenix whenwe passed an array of thirty-six solar panels connected to a smallshed. I don’t stop for single panels. I’d never get anywhere if I did.But these looked impressive and photogenic. So, I pulled over and tookthe picture linked from the map above.

Cholla Campground

It wasn’t until I got home and started looking for information onthese panels that I stumbled across a solar gold mine. Chollacampground is on the shore of Lake Roosevelt, also in the TontoNational Forest and just twelve miles from Bartlett Lake. Now, lots ofcampgrounds have a few solar panels or a solar water heater for theshower.At Cholla campground, the only electricity comes from solar panels.The only hot water is heated by solar water heaters. But, it’s the sizeof the facility that makes it unique. With 206 campsites, Cholla is thelargest fully solar-powered campground in the United States.

For now, all I can offer is this photo from the National ForestService. I’ll take a drive up there soon and report back on what’sthere.

Original Article at The Phoenix Sun


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