Swinerton In the News

Swinerton Renewable Energy: May 20, 2016

Got sun?

Area solar farms get ready to soak up rays

ONTARIO — With one solar farm projected to be up and running by July, crews are working quickly on solar power installations around Malheur County.

There are about 150 people working on six sites, according to Justin Kylstad, assistant project manager for Swinerton Renewable Energy.

“It’s moving along,” Kylstad told the group attending the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce Ag Forum Thursday morning at the Malheur County Extension Office. “We love working up here.”

The sites are at Owyhee Junction, near Gem Avenue north of Nyssa, next to the Vale airport, along Grove Road west of Vale, along Railroad Avenue and one along Power Road, in the
Hyline Area.

Kylstad said the work would continue through the end of the year.

The process begins with the developer — in this case, Panasonic — obtaining an agreement with Idaho Power Company for the sale of power, which is followed by a purchase or lease agreement for the land with a property owner, Kylstad said.

That is when a company like Swinerton Renewable Energy is brought into to do the construction, he said.

Swinerton does not have any say where the solar sites are located, Kylstad said, in answer to a question, adding that locations were worked out by the developer.

The solar panels being installed, which are made by SolarWorld, based in Hillsboro, are guaranteed to produce 95 percent of their designed output, according to Kylstad.

Malheur County’s six solar farms are expected to generate nearly 50 megawatts of power combined, Kylstad said.

One megawatt is enough power for 164 homes, a company spokesperson has previously said.

The solar farms serve to stabilize the power grid, Kylstad said.

With tax credits for solar developments extended, he said, “the industry looks strong for the next five years.”

Since power from solar is already cheaper than other power sources, it is expected that as costs of solar panels and other equipment come down that tax credits will not be needed in the future, Kylstad said.

There will be a maintenance technician, based locally, available to do routine work, such as cleaning, Kylstad said, and to address any problems. There are command centers, including one in Bend, that will monitor operations of the solar arrays and will detect if there is any malfunction and on which row it occurred, he added.

The systems are designed to withstand winds of 100 mph, but the panels will go flat when the wind reaches a certain level, Kylstad said.

Once running, power from the solar systems will feed through a switchyard to connect to Idaho Power, he said.

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