Students worry about falling ice on solar panels

By Vincent Infinito

County College of Morris’ solar panels offer clean renewable energy, along with frequent hazards. There is no shortage of complaints revolving around the recently installed solar panels, ranging from minor inconveniences to serious safety concerns. Many students have expressed concern regarding vehicles being damaged as a result of falling ice.

“If a car was damaged you would think the school should be responsible,” said commuter student Andrew Hader. “It should at least say ‘park at your own risk.’ ”

The solar panels are equipped with a vertical shelf to prevent the falling of melting ice and slush. However, these are ineffective against icicles forming due to small drips, which can grow to alarming sizes.

At a student safety meeting last week, the subject was broached by Karen Dougherty, who holds the student chair on the safety committee. She asked what would be the response to falling ice possibly harming students or property. The response she received was that the school would investigate any such occurrences on a case by case basis.

Many involved with issues of student safety and affairs found this answer unsatisfactory. There are unconfirmed reports of property damage which have already taken place. If any such incident is within the realm of possibility it surely poses a considerable risk to people and property.

Any car unluckily parked at the edge of a panel is at risk for considerable ice buildup from the deluge of melted snow. The college is aware of this, and has begun to salt in-between the student’s cars to prevent slippery conditions.

Students also commented on the seemingly constant repairs being done to the panels and the parking spaces which are taken up by repair trucks. Many of the overhead lights have recently ceased working, and have been replaced by portable stadium lights.

These style solar panels are becoming more and more popular throughout the state, being erected above parking lots in schools and office buildings alike.

Since not all of the parking lots at CCM are covered by the panels, students retain the option of choosing alternative parking which may be less hazardous.


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