Oregon’s Energy Facility Siting Council has granted final approval to developer Obsidian Renewables LLC. to begin construction on the proposed Obsidian Solar Center, the largest solar project in oregon and the Pacific Northwest, and among the largest solar assets cleared for construction in the country.
The 400MW Obsidian Solar Center is set to be developed on 4,000 acres of low-value grazing land in Lake County, which is in the south-central portion of the state, near the Oregon-California border. The project was initially expected to begin construction in 2019 and be finished in 2022 or 2023, however opposition from local landowners bogged down the process, and the project is now slated to begin construction in 2023 and reach completion by the end of 2024.
While the land set aside for construction poses little value for grazing, local farmers argued against the use of agricultural land for a project of this size, as agricultural land in the greater Christmas Valley region is especially valuable for growing high-quality hay. Opponents of the project also cited concerns over displacement of local fauna into other landowners’ growing fields, the potential for the project to create dust plumes, and the precedent set by developing non-agriculture on agriculturally-zoned land.
Ultimately, these concerns were overridden by the Energy Facility Siting Council and deemed speculative, allowing the project to move forward. The project does not currently have an energy offtaker, though the generation is expected to be purchased through a power purchase agreement (PPA) with a large utility company or data center operator in the region.
As it stands right now, the proposed capacity of the Obsidian Solar Center represents nearly 33% of all solar that has been installed in Oregon to date, which currently sits at just over 1,200MW. The project also far exceeds the size of Oregon’s previous claimant to largest project: the Montague Solar Facility.
With a final expected capacity of 162MW, the Montague Solar Facility is under construction on 1,200 acres of Exclusive Farm Use zoned land in Gilliam County, in the North-Central part of the state, near the Oregon-Washington border. that project was developed by Avangrid Renewables and holds a 15-year PPA with PGE.
Obsidian represents Obsidian Solar’s 13th project in the Pacific Northwest, and is the company’s largest-ever solar installation, 353MW greater in capacity than the runner-up.
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