Nation/World

Alcatraz gets funds for solar panels

The Park Service will use stimulus funds to install solar panels at Alcatraz Island and reduce use of generators.  (File Associated Press)
The Park Service will use stimulus funds to install solar panels at Alcatraz Island and reduce use of generators. (File Associated Press)

The Rock is going solar.

In its heyday, Alcatraz prison locked up mobsters like Al Capone, “Machine Gun” Kelly and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis. Now, the famous penitentiary in San Francisco Bay will capture something new: the sun’s rays.

On Friday, the National Park Service announced it will fund a project to put roughly 1,360 solar panels on the main prison and laundry building at Alcatraz Island. The panels, which are scheduled to be installed this spring, will provide 40 to 60 percent of the electricity for the iconic island, reducing the need for two aging diesel generators that currently keep Alcatraz’s lights on – yet which also belch out heavy smog and cost $700,000 a year to fuel and maintain.

“The long-term goal is to create a fully sustainable island that uses 100 percent renewable energy,” said Michael Feinstein, a spokesman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which oversees Alcatraz.

“There are about 1 million visitors to Alcatraz a year, and we want to make it a showplace for green energy.”

The project will be funded through President Barack Obama’s stimulus program. Last year, the National Park Service received $754 million in stimulus funding.

Those funds went to hundreds of projects, from fixing campgrounds at Denali National Park in Alaska to rebuilding the seawall at the Statue of Liberty in New York. It also went toward paving aging roads, fixing wastewater treatment plants and building trails at more than 250 other national parks.



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