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Oregon’s largest solar project set to begin in Bly


PacifiCorp will buy the electricity produced by what will be the state’s largest solar facility being built on the site of a long-closed lumber mill in the picturesque town of Bly, 50 miles east of Klamath Falls.

“By the end of 2015, our customers will be using the power being produced here,” Stefan Bird, CEO and president of Pacific Power, said in a news release Wednesday. “Between now and then, communities in Klamath County will benefit from the jobs that come from this kind of long term investment in renewable projects.”

Obsidian Renewables of Lake Oswego will start construction on the project over the summer. Peak construction employment is expected to be 40, with plans to use local contractors and subcontractors, as well as International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers members for electrical work.

The Old Mill Project is on the site of a former Weyerhaeuser sawmill that dominated the town before closing and being dismantled in 1984. In 2012, Obsidian also built PacifiCorp’s Black Cap solar project in Lakeview.

“We are proud to be working again with PacifiCorp to deliver a modern and efficient solar project to its customers,” said David Brown, senior principal of Obsidian. “Solar development costs continue to decline and we are confident Oregon will see more solar projects in the near future.”

“The community of Bly is excited to have this project ready to begin construction,” said Leda Hunter of the Bly Community Action Team. “The Old Mill site is right in town and has been an eyesore for years.

“Having something productive there again will be great for Bly and the construction crews in town will be a boon to our lagging economy. A trail that occupies the old right of way for the timber railroad ends at the site and the facility will be a unique place to conclude a hike through the high timber country.”

The Old Mill facility will take up 40 acres and feature more than 20,000 solar panels, supplying enough power annually to meet the needs of approximately 1,000 average residential customers. The power purchase agreement is for 25 years.

The By project, and the Black Cap Solar project, located about 50 miles east of Bly in Lakeview, will make a combined 7 megawatts of solar capacity available to customers.

Both Old Mill and Black Cap projects came about through request for proposals, where PacifiCorp sought projects to help it meet Oregon’s Solar Capacity Standards law.

The company is continuing its process to meet the final 1.7-megawatt portion of an 8.7-megawatt solar requirement by the deadline of 2020.

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