BY: LEE JUILLERAT, H&N Regional Editor
Herald and News
LAKEVIEW — What now looks like a futurist drive-in movie theater will, in coming months, be transformed into Oregon’s largest solar farm.
Construction of two side-by-side solar farms is continuing on a 16-acre site just south of Lakeview.
The Black Cap and Lakeview solar projects’ nearly 9,000 modules will generate about 2.5 megawatts of electricity, enough for about 450 residential customers. No cost figures have been disclosed, but cost for developing other solar projects has been about $3 million per megawatt.
“It does look like a future drive-in movie theater,” said Todd Gregory, assistant vice president for Obsidian Renewables, the Portland-area company overseeing the installation of solar modules for PacifiCorp’s Black Cap 2 megawatt project and its adjacent 366-kilowatt Lakeview project.
Construction crews have been doing trenching and pile driving, according to Jerime Cope, superintendent for Swinterton Renewable Energy, general contractor for both projects. He said about 20 electricians, excavators and subcontractors are involved in the construction, which began in May.
Gregory said the Black Cap project is expected to be completed and on-line by late September and the Lakeview project by early October. Obsidian is working with PacifiCorp and others to offer a tour and presentation of the projects July 20 in Lakeview. Government representatives are expected to make a site visit and learn more about the Lakeview work during the session.
“It will be a good time because the work will be partially completed,” Gregory said, noting some modules and trackers will be in place and in various stages of completion.
PacifiCorp will own the project rights and the land and lease the equipment to the Obsidian Finance Group.
Gregory said Obsidian also is submitting a grant application through PacifiCorp’s Blue Sky program to develop a 10-kilowatt solar array for a Lakeview 4-H Club farm on adjacent, undeveloped land. He said Obsidian is proposing to donate the land, drill a well and provide the solar panels to generate electricity for the small farm. The project is currently in the design stage.