Strata Solar will break ground on what will be the largest solar power plant in Washington State on May 24th. The company expects to complete commissioning in late October, and the utility is planning for the project to begin delivering electricity December 1st.
The Lind County facility will be a 19.2 MW-AC/28 MW-DC single axis tracker plant. Currently the largest plant in Washington State is only 500 kW, and was commissioned in 2009.
The Solar Foundation’s State Scorecard, via data from SEIA and GTM Research, suggests that the state has installed 111 MW of solar in total.
This plant is part of a trio of large projects coming to the state that are expected to triple the total capacity, on their own, in less than three years. There is a plan to build 180 MW plant is being developed atop an old coal strip mine, however at last check this project did not yet have a power contract.
John Knight, chief development officer at Strata, said in comments to pv magazine that the new power plant would be the largest infrastructure project in the region for the last 15 years, as well as Strata’s first significant solar project in the western United States.
When asked specifically about the complexity of the interconnection process by pv magazine, Knight commented:
Working with Avista was great. The interconnection process was very smooth, one of the more efficient interactions with a utility I’ve had.
Strata Solar will own and manage the project for Avista, while leasing the 170 acres for the project. The specific site location was chosen from several due to its sunny location within the state, plus being close to Avista’s currently existing transmission infrastructure.
Solar Select (where companies can register for the program) – is one of 15 “green tariff” programs being offered across the United States so that companies can meet sustainability goals. Avista suggests that between 40 and 80 commercial customers will purchase the output of the 28 MW project.
As has been the case with other utilities, Avista’s creation of this program is likely a reaction to customer demands. Utilities in Washington were put on alert when Microsoft announced plans to buy its own electricity in the open market to power its operations in Puget Sound. The company is largely skipping the local utility – Puget Sound Energy – by paying a one-off exit fee.
When Strata Solar was asked about whether energy storage was considered, it was noted that the RFP from the utility didn’t request it, but that the company is developing 1.5 GW of storage projects throughout the United States.