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Solar Facility Would Take 10,900 Acres
of Eastern Oregon Farmland

by Travis Snell
Capital Press, July 27, 2023

The Sunstone Solar project is expected to produce
approximately 1,200 megawatts of electricity

North Carolina-based Pine Gate Renewables has filed its application with the state to build a 1,200 megawatt solar energy and energy storage facility near Boardman. MORROW COUNTY, Ore. -- Initial steps have been taken to provide Morrow County with a solar power facility expected to supply 600 jobs and enough clean energy to power more than 200,000 homes.

The project would be built on 10,900 acres of private land zoned for exclusive farm use, according to the Oregon Department of Energy.

Logan Stephens, Pine Gate Renewables senior director of development, said the North Carolina-based company on June 30 filed its preliminary paperwork with the Oregon Department of Energy and Energy Facilities Siting Council. He said the company wants to install a solar energy and energy storage facility southeast of the Boardman naval bombing range.

"Essentially, this is the first step in getting our application for that site certificate put together," he said. "So we filed it and we expect to go back and forth with the Department of Energy, who is going to be seeking input from other stakeholders at the state and local levels throughout the process to get to a final application, which we anticipate toward the end of this year, early next year."

Stephens said the filing kicked off a 12- to 18-month review process with opportunities for public engagement expected in 2024.

"The first half or so of that is just going back and forth to get to a final application," he said. "After that there will be opportunities for public input and participation in the process before the Energy Facilities Siting Council makes a determination on whether or not to approve the certificate."

The project, named Sunstone Solar, is expected to produce approximately 1,200 megawatts of electricity.

"We estimate that it will generate enough energy every year to power the equivalent of over 200,000 average Oregon homes. That's the easiest way to think about it," he said.

Stephens said the facility would include millions of individual solar panels, racking equipment, converters, transformers and other electrical components to generate electricity and send it to existing power lines.

"The maximum footprint of the facility that we are seeking to get permitted with the Department of Energy is little over 10,000 acres," he said. "By the time the final plant design is optimized, it could be less than that."

According to the company, development for the project began in 2021 and will end in 2026, which is when construction is expected to start. Stephens said the project should provide about 600 jobs.

"The sort of head count of construction workers on site has a little bit of a ramp-up and ramp-down shape to it as you might imagine, but we anticipate the peak to be around 600 folks who will be on site for a period of three to four years as we fill the different phases of the facility," he said. "And those jobs are made of a variety of different disciplines whether it's day laborer or electricians or simple contractors and folks for the mechanical install of the racking system and everything."

He added that some jobs would remain after the facility's completion.

"There will be a few related to the maintenance of the facility, and we will have a few onsite facilities for operation and maintenance, but it will certainly be a lot less, maybe 10 or 20 or 30, but we don't have an exact number on that," Stephens said. "We are still in the planning phase, but the bulk of the job creation is for the construction phase."

The company states the facility is expected to be fully operational in 2030.

Travis Snell
Solar Facility Would Take 10,900 Acres of Eastern Oregon Farmland
Capital Press, July 27, 2023

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