North America, On Site Renewables, Renewables

Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s First Solar Demonstration Project Goes On-Line

PORTLAND, Ore.—The Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) joined with the City of Ashland, Oregon, and other partners in dedicating the Northwest’s newest and largest solar photovoltaic generation project on July 28, 2000.

The 25 kW project, divided among three key sites in downtown Ashland, last year was the first renewable energy project funded by BEF. A BEF grant of $62,500 leveraged nearly $300,000 in additional investment by the City of Ashland, the Bonneville Power Administration, Avista Energy and the State of Oregon Office of Energy. Two local institutions-The Oregon Shakespearean Festival and Southern Oregon University-each invested $15,000 in the five kW installations located at their facilities.

The system will produce enough energy to fully power the Ashland police station, and parts of the University and the Festival. Surplus energy will flow into the Ashland electric grid where it is being purchased by 250 Ashland residential and business consumers who have signed up for the solar service.

Approximately five kW of the solar output will be delivered to BPA’s regional grid, where BPA will mix it with environmentally-superior wind, hydro and other “green” resources. BPA and BEF will then resell it to utilities and consumers throughout the Pacific Northwest.

“We recognized that Ashland was a prime site for our first solar demonstration project,” said Angus Duncan, BEF president. “The community supports renewable energy and its citizens are willing to pay the higher costs in return for the greater environmental quality solar energy delivers.”

Building on its success in Ashland, BEF has already made a second award for a community-based solar power system to Orcas Power and Light in Washington’s San Juan Islands.

“Where we find high levels of community support for new energy solutions like this, we intend to make a series of commitments that will harness the power of the sun and other renewable resources,” added Duncan.

According to Rachel Shimshak, director of the Renewable Northwest Project, solar is a growing and important part of the commitment to expand renewable energy resources. “The regional role of solar will increase steadily as the technology improves, costs decline and consumer acceptance grows. Currently the cost of producing solar energy is higher than that of power from fossil fuels. Projects like these help drive down costs and demonstrate that people value all the attributes of renewable resources.”

Duncan gave credit for the success of the Solar Ashland project to the city leadership and members of the community who supported the project with their signups. “Mayor Cathy Shaw, Councilwoman Susan Reid, utility manager Pete Lovrovich and project manager Dick Wanderscheid are the people who made this go. They grasped the vision and used it to enlist all of the groups that made this possible.”