75-megawatt solar plant would also create hundreds of new green jobs
Not all of the big solar projects coming down the pike in the West will be on public land. A team of private investors today announced plans to build a solar photovoltaic plant in the state of Washington that would be the largest of its kind in the world.
The 75-megawatt Teanaway Solar Reserve will be located on 400 acres of formerly-logged private property four miles north of Cle Elum, in Kittitas County, Washington. If built, the plant would generate enough power for an estimated 75,000 homes. Currently, the largest solar photovoltaic plant in the world is a 60-megawatt facility in Spain.
Teanaway has not secured power purchase agreements with the major electricity providers, but project developers are confident they will find a buyer. Howard Trott, Managing Director and principal investor for the Teanaway Solar Reserve, said “We’ve had very good meetings with local utilities.”
After a pre-application meeting with Kittitas County officials yesterday, Trott said the timeline on construction of the manufacturing plant and the power plant totals about 18 months.
Joined by Senator Maria Cantwell on a call with reporters Thursday, Trott explained that the Teanaway project would be different in that both the manufacturing and power generation are local. The end benefit for the area would thus not only be a new solar power plant, but hundreds of new manufacturing and engineering jobs.
Thursday’s announcement won immediate endorsement from Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA). Cantwell said the move, “Positions our state as a major player in a $6 trillion export industry and makes Washington the second largest solar producer by megawatts behind California.”
Sourcing both the panels and inverters locally would also save on transportation and packaging costs, said Trott. “To get our order we are going to make manufactures come to us, but we are going to help them by getting the facilities they need to do that.” Although they haven’t secured an agreement with a manufacturer yet, Trott said, “We feel like we have great purchasing power.”
In terms of preferred technology for the project, solar crystalline versus thin film technologies are both being weighed as options, but project developers said they would ideally like to source locally. “We are blessed in that we are in a state that is one of the largest producers of silicon,” said Trott. But the dedication to locally-sourced silicon will have to be weighed against the lower-priced thin film technologies, which are coming in at about $2 per watt, according to Trott.
Project planners said the 75-megawatt, $100 million Teannaway Solar Reserve will be online by 2011.
Image via An-tonio under a Creative Commons License