Solar panels stolen near Parachute
September 1, 2009
PARACHUTE, Colo. – The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a theft of 22 solar panels from natural gas well pads near Parachute.
According to authorities, Williams Production reported the missing solar panels on Aug. 24.
Williams spokeswoman Donna Gray confirmed Monday the energy company discovered that the solar panels were missing from several of its well pads near Parachute and called authorities. Gray said that the solar panels were relatively small in size, and access to the well pads is fairly easy.
“There aren’t people on every location,” she said. “[The solar panels] would be easy for someone to take.”
Gray said the solar panels that were taken are used to fuel a separator pump – a piece of production equipment used in separating the natural gas from other fluids as it’s extracted from the ground.
The panels also power the well’s telemeters, which track data regarding the well’s functions, such as production volumes, and transmits the information to field technicians.
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Gray said that Williams alone has 3,000 well pads in western Colorado and each of them has a solar panel.
“We do take this very seriously,” Gray said.
The sheriff’s office had no comment on the specifics of the case, as the investigation is ongoing. Gray was unsure the exact location of the well pads. However, about half of William’s well pads sit on public lands with easy access.
“[The pads] are not gated and are on BLM land,” Gray said.
As of Aug. 28, authorities had no suspects.
The incident follows a similar case, in which 30 solar panels were stolen from the roof of the Carbondale Recreation Center in the early morning hours of Memorial Day. The recreation center has 288 panels installed on the roof.
The missing rec center solar panels were discovered by Aspen police, strapped to a flatbed truck parked outside of an Aspen residence, after two witnesses came forward with information regarding the case. However, no arrests have been made because the district attorney’s office said there was insufficient evidence for an arrest warrant in the case. That is frustrating for Carbondale Police Chief Gene Schilling.
“There are no changes in the case. We are hoping there will be someday,” Schilling said. “We know who did it, but we don’t have enough [evidence] to go forward with it.”
Gray could only speculate on the value of the solar panels and did not know how much each would cost.