New Solar Farm Sees Light in Madras

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Adams Array Joins Elbe Center as Major Renewable Power Provider

A major ten-megawatt solar farm in Jefferson County — one of four in Oregon installed by a global energy conglomerate subsidiary — is now in commercial operations and has started selling power to local utilities.

The 80-acre Adams Solar Center north of Madras, off North Adams Drive, joins a mirror-image plot fronting Elbe Drive to the west of the city, both developed by California-based GCL New Energy and each featuring some 40,000 panels installed on arrays tracking the sun east to west daily.

Total cost for the two projects together with associated upgrades to transmission lines to accommodate the new generation is expected to represent around a $40 million investment, with construction undertaken by Swinerton Builders of San Diego.

Vice President of Business Development for GCL New Energy Mac Moore said: “The peak power output will be ten megawatts each, and each project is expected to generate 23,000,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

“A home in Oregon uses about 12,000 kilowatt-hours per year, so each of these projects will produce the equivalent of the electricity use of about 1,900 Oregon homes.”

The renewable energy-produced electricity will be sold under contract to PacifiCorp and together with affiliated projects the Bear Creek Solar Center in Bend and the Bly Solar Center in Klamath County, will provide some 38.5 megawatts for Pacific Power’s grid.

Pacific Power serves 740,000 customers in Oregon, Washington and California and the utility has until 2040 to start generating half its electricity from renewable sources under the Oregon Renewable Portfolio Standard.

Frank Zhu, Executive President of GCL New Energy — a subsidiary of the world’s leading clean energy conglomerate GCL Group — said, “This is another significant milestone for GCL New Energy in the U.S., after the grid connection of our 83MW project in North Carolina.

“We will continue to aggressively expand our presence in the U.S. as we strive to bring green, renewable power to more and more people.”

Work on the Adams project encountered a number of challenges during the construction process, including the site’s complex geological structure, harsh weather conditions, and a need to re-do the site geological survey after the discovery of suspected Native American cultural relics in the area.

GCL Construction Manager Lyle Thompson said that to ensure the quality, timely delivery, and safety of the project, the U.S. unit of China’s GCL New Energy Holdings Ltd followed stringent industry and construction standards, as part of its commitment to overseas development, construction and management of solar installations.

Local Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) officials also helped guide the company through requirements for five-year Enterprise Zone accreditation for the projects, with incentives including property tax abatements, as well as enlisting the help of state land use specialists to confirm eligibility for the Oregon Rural Renewable Energy Zone status.

Moore hailed community support for the projects, saying: “Jefferson County has been very helpful during the process to obtain use and construction permits,” and lauded local EDCO director Janet Brown’s assistance as a “key supporter”.

He added, “The two Madras projects represent a substantial up-front investment, but the systems are designed to last 30-plus years, operating costs are low and sunshine is free.”

The projects will be maintained by a division of Swinerton called SOLV, which has an office in Bend, with responsibilities including mowing under the arrays if needed and noxious weed control under a county-approved plan.

GCL New Energy, Inc. is a wholly-owned international renewable energy IPP subsidiary of GCL New Energy Holdings Ltd (0451.HK) with offices in San Ramon, California. The company focuses on developing, owning, and operating utility scale solar projects, and has experience in the United States, Puerto Rico, Latin America and numerous other international markets.

(Photo Courtesy of Swinerton Renewable Energy)

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Simon Mather CBN Feature Writer

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