BY: Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon contributing writer
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The state’s largest solar array is under construction in Lake County, slated for completion this fall. The 5-megawatt, 16-acre solar array — known as Outback — is being developed by Obsidian Finance Group and Smart Energy Capital, and comes at a time when other utility-scale solar projects are stalling in Oregon.
The project was helped to fruition by $15 million in tax incentives through combined awards from Oregon’s former Business Energy Tax Credit program and the Energy Trust of Oregon.
Todd Gregory, assistant vice president of Tigard-based Obsidian said that persistence has also been a primary driver.
Outback has been four years in the making. It began with Gregory scouting southern Oregon land, armed with information on power lines, then probing transmission possibilities and working with utilities and local stakeholders. The project has since cleared numerous hurdles, including a challenge at the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.
Obsidian declined to provide the cost of the project.
Smart Energy Capital, a solar energy project developer with an office in Portland, arranged the financing for Outback, overseeing design and construction, negotiating transmission rights and a power purchase agreement with Portland General Electric, and finalizing incentive agreements.
Smart Energy’s Mike Grenier said the company – in business since 2009 and exclusively focused on solar development – is extremely proud of the project, which in some ways is the first of its kind.
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