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Energy firm approaches county with interest in new project

July 9, 2014 by

Todd Gregory of Obsidian Renewables recently approached Lake County’s Board of Commissioners with interest in acquiring county land for a 5-megawatt solar energy site in Lakeview.

The commissioners discussed the proposal with Gregory during a July 1 work session, ultimately tabling any action during their July 2 regular session.

Gregory detailed the potential siting of the project on property currently owned by the county west of Roberta Road site known as the former Ruby Pipeline ‘man camp,’ which at one time housed workers involved with the pipeline’s construction.

Gregory cited an appraisal of the property that placed its value at an estimated $1,000 per acre.

He also said he’d previously approached both Commissioners Ken Kestner and Brad Winters on the proposal, and that the county at that time expressed a desire to hang on to the ‘man camp’ site for possible future development.

During the July 1 meeting, Winters said he was leaning toward keeping the ‘man camp’ site as two solid blocks of county property for future development.

Gregory said one of the blocks features a Town of Lakeview well and, as a commercially zoned site, he sees no issues with obtaining the necessary planning approval for the project.

Gregory also voiced economic feasibility concerns related to further reducing the project down below five megawatts.  It’s initial design was set at 5.5 megawatts, he said.

During the peak of its construction, Gregory said there would be a total of 60 employees working on the project.

The site is a low-maintenance design that would only require a single individual to perform necessary maintenance tasks.

Gregory also said that timing is an important element on the project, in light of a contract needed with Pacific Power prior to initiating construction.

This is an element that his company is trying to lock in as quickly as possible, Gregory said.

The discussion continued with the county’s attorney, Jim Bailey, during the commissioners’ Wednesday, July 2, meeting.

Commissioner Winters noted that the county would further research the sale of the property with development required within a specific timeframe as well as look at conducting an independent appraisal of the land in question.

The Lake County Board of Commissioners will next meet on the morning of Tuesday, July 15, at 9 a.m.

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