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West Linn Highway Solar Project, Clackamas County, OR

STATUS: In progress with opposition

TYPE:  Solar

OPPOSITION: Local Residents


BACKGROUND:  Oregon transportation officials propose installing 13,600 to 17,000 solar panels on about 15 acres of the 43-acre site. The panels would produce 3.2 million kilowatt-hours of power each year, enough to power 168 homes, or about one-sixth of ODOT's needs in the Portland General Electric service area. The project is valued at an estimated $20 million and will be financed with (1) federal and state tax credits, and with (2) other public and private funding and perhaps some federal “stimulus package” money as well.

Opponents of the project contend the proposal would require the removal of too many trees, ruin expansive views of the Willamette River landscape and leave taxpayers to foot the bill given the generous tax credits.  Residents complain that the removal of 150 to 300 trees would be counterproductive. Project officials, however, contend that most of those trees would be small and the amount of carbon offset by the solar panels would be far greater than the amount of carbon the trees could absorb.

While many West Linn residents approve of powering the transportation system with renewable energy, they also worry about the impact on their properties.  On July 27, 2009, the city council voted to support the project.

On March 20, 2010, an open house was held for the proposed project, giving residents the opportunity to get information on various aspects of the project. The project is not expected to be financed until 2011 or 2012, at which point ODOT will initiate the City of West Linn permit processes. Those processes typically take 7-9 months to complete and include public notice. Construction would begin after the City processes are completed.

SOURCES: Oregon Live.com: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/07/some_west_linn_and_oregon_city.html;
West Linn Tidings: http://www.westlinntidings.com/news/story_2nd.php?story_id=124828843637534400;
City of West Linn: http://westlinnoregon.gov/communications/solar-highway

Last updated November 24, 2010