The solar array on Airport Hill in Pendleton is becoming a reality. The agreement to lease the land from the city was inked four years ago, but at that time there were several regulatory hurdles that had to be cleared before the installation of the panels could begin. Pendleton Economic Development Director Steve Chrisman says the news of the lease may not have been noticed, but people are noticing now.
“My goodness, (it’s) 58 acres of solar,” he said. “That’s six megawatts. That’s enough to run the entire city of Pendleton, so it’s going to be pretty awesome. It’s about a $15 million project.”
People are noticing the solar array now, and when Chrisman sees it, he’s smiling.
“It did change the look of the hillside a little bit, but I can tell you those folks are paying good taxes and good rent,” he said. “We needed more power in this community. I don’t know if people realize what a big power challenge we have here.”
Before the lease went into effect, NorWest Energy 9 needed to receive approval from Pacific Power and the Federal Aviation Administration. The utility needed to ensure it the solar array could be connected into the local grid. The FAA’s concern was primarily to make sure the panels didn’t create a glare for aircraft or motorists. Those hurdles have now been cleared.