During a meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 19, a proposal to lease property for a new community solar option was tentatively agreed upon by the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners. The site, located on Homan Lane, is pending a contract review by the county council before the project can move forward with planning and development.
Fleet Development’s Ryan Sheehy spoke at the meeting regarding the Homan Lane project near Fish Hatchery Road. According to Sheehy’s presentation, he agreed to pay a minimum of $2,500 annually in lease fees. He also confirmed that the project would provide a $24,000 per year return to the county. The $1 million community solar program is projected to last 20 years.
There is currently no timeline for the project spearheaded by Sheehy and Fleet Development, and the council hasn’t agreed upon a review period for the contract.
In 2019, Sheehy was $340,000 in grants to bring community solar to Wallowa and La Grande, OR. The grants were awarded with the intention of Fleet Development bringing solar energy to affordable housing in northeastern Oregon. $250,000 of that grant money was awarded by the Oregon Department of Energy. According to stipulations of the funds, they could be used at any point during the development of the project.
After receiving the grant money, Fleet Development started to consider an 860-kilowatt array on a parcel of land across from the Wallowa High School. Upon completion, low-income households would be able to subscribe to units of energy through Pacific Power. In return, they would benefit from solar power and receive a discount on their monthly utility bill.
Sheehy stated in 2019 that the project would cost approximately $2.5 million. It was slated to be one of the first community solar options to come to Oregon years after Senate Bill 1547 passed in 2016. Contents of the bill included removing coal power plants and putting a focus on renewable energies. Senate Bill 1547 states that 10% of the energy generated by community solar options will be offered to low-income residents.
Though the original estimated construction start date was spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant delays.