David Brown of Obsidian Renewables was in Lakeview on Wednesday, Sept. 21 to announce plans for new solar facilities across Lake County and ongoing development of current projects.
Speaking at a Lake County Commissioners meeting, Brown announced plans for a tour on Friday, Oct. 7 of current solar and geothermal facilities and planned sites for the Commissioners and Ruchi Sadhir, Oregon’s energy policy advisor to Gov. Kate Brown, in Lakeview atop Black Cap and the airport, Paisley, Christmas Valley and Fort Rock. The company has plans for development of new sites in Christmas Valley near the Fossil Lake substation and a large solar project in Fort Rock near the transmission lines.
Such a large expansion of solar operations is being considered in the Klamath Basin that Brown also discussed the necessity for a line expansion from Alturas, Calif. to Chiloquin, hoping to triple the capacity to carry the next generation of solar development in the region. Brown estimated that the project is doable, and could expand lines to be capable of carrying as much as 250 megawatts.
Development is already underway for a solar project at the airport in Lakeview, where Brown provided updates on the studies being conducted on the proposed site. Hole borings are being conducted along with wildlife and wetlands studies and a cultural review, all necessary steps for approval prior to construction. Brown indicated that at current pace the airport solar project would be constructed in 2018, but could be pushed back to 2019. He hoped that the Fossil Lake solar project in Christmas Valley would be built next year.
Commissioner Dan Shoun inquired about Lake County’s potential as a resiliency in the wake of catastrophe considering the amount of power that can be generated. Brown agreed with the assessment, noting in particular scientific predictions of a major Cascadia earthquake in the near future. Lake County is inland enough and not recognized as a volcanic zone, making it an attractive backup resiliency should a disaster strike western Oregon such as tsunamis, floods and earthquakes. Brown noted to accomplish this upgrades to smart transmission systems would be needed. The potential of being a resiliency power provider is potentially in the billions should California, Oregon or Washington ever need emergency power in the wake of a major disaster.
“If a major disaster were to strike, if we are still able to produce power here we could keep Oregon running,” said Brown of Lake County’s power potential. “The grid could be maintained through geothermal, solar, biomass and wind power in eastern Oregon. This county really is different in that regard, this is the only county where all the lines come through from The Dalles all the way to Los Angeles.”
For video of the meeting visit www.lakecountyexam.com/multimedia/videos.