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"Family harvests solar power in place of crops"

This past week the largest ground-mounted solar farm in the region went on line at the 88-acre Lever Family Farm in Aurora.

"Family harvests solar power in place of crops"

Lever Family Farm PV Array in Aurora, OR

By Keely Chalmers
KGW.com

>> Click here to view original article

AURORA, Ore. -- A new kind of cash-generating crop is popping up in Clackamas County; it's not grapes or berries, but solar power.

This past week the largest ground-mounted solar farm in the region went on line at the 88-acre Lever Family Farm in Aurora.

“It's been in potatoes, it’s been in cucumbers, it’s been in flax seed,” Carrie Jo Vincent said of the farm's many other crops.

Vincent's father first purchased the land in the 1970’s. But recently the family decided to add another renewable resource to their acreage.

This one will generate twice as much revenue as traditional agricultural crops, will keep with the family's "green" way of thinking and will add a new element to the landscape.

“It’s totally different,” Vincent said.

Where there was once grass seed now sit two acres of solar panels that together generate enough energy to power more than 50 homes.

“It’s PGE’s largest--it's Clackamas County's largest--ground mounted system,” said Kirk Cameron of 3CSolar, which owns the system.

3CSolar is a small Portland-based company. The company leases the land from the Lever family and, under an agreement, sells the power to PGE. All the power generated from the solar array goes straight into the grid.

“This is part of PGE’s program to help Oregon hit 25 percent renewables by 2025,” said Chris Copp, also of 3CSolar.

It was a change the family said not all their neighbors appreciated.

“It got mixed reviews,” farm co-owner Dan Lever admitted.

But it was a change, in these tough economic times, Lever said his family couldn't afford not to make.

“Not ever could I make the same money per acre farming any crop than he offered me for these two acres,” said Lever.

It’s a new kind of crop the Lever family hopes will have a bright future, producing clean energy for generations to come.

“This isn’t, on a world scale, a big contribution," Lever said. "But I'll be able to say I did something, rather than what most people do which is nothing.”


 
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