Stealing sunshine

by Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca

Our northern latitude and heavy snowfall make solar power a less enticing energy prospect in Canada than in, say, sunny California. But as we've reported earlier this year, solar power projects are, if you'll allow the mixing of energy metaphors, gaining steam in Canada.

It turns out, however, there is a (very) hidden cost to solar panels people don't often consider: theft.

According to a New York Times report, solar panels have been the target of a rash of thefts in sunny California and to a lesser extent in other states.

Thieves are making off with the panels and then selling them online on websites such as eBay and Craigslist. The story includes the experience of Minnesota's Sauk River Watershed District, which lost eight panels worth $250 US each in the last few years according to water quality monitoring program co-ordinator Melissa Roelike. As the Times reports:

In response, the district has taken steps to protect the panels, including putting them in trees and atop poles. Thieves promptly stole one such panel.

“Obviously, hoisting them 20 feet in the air on a metal pipe does not work,” Ms. Roelike said.

As the story reports, thievery and measures to stop it are entrenched in Europe, where the solar industry is more entrenched. Maybe, as Canadians become more savvy about adding panels to their homes to cost energy costs, they might want to save some of that juice for a good security camera.