Bioenergy, Project Development, Solar

PSE Picks EI Solutions to Build Solar-Power Facility in Pacific Northwest

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) selected San Rafael, California-based EI Solutions to design and construct a $3.7 million, 500-kilowatt (kW) solar-power generating facility alongside the utility’s Wild Horse wind farm in central Washington.

Slated to become the Northwest’s largest solar-powered system, it is also the first commercial installation to use solar panels made in Washington. The Wild Horse solar project will have more than 2,500 photovoltaic (PV) solar panels mounted in two separate locations across five acres. PSE plans to begin construction of the solar project in June and have most of its power-generating panels in operation before the end of 2007. “We’re building a large-scale demonstration project to give our company, and our state, a better understanding of solar power’s viability here in the Northwest,” said Stephen P. Reynolds, chairman, president and CEO for Puget Sound Energy. “What’s more, by helping to launch a homegrown line of solar panels, this project will give Washington residents an added incentive to install their own solar-powered systems.” Under a state law implemented in 2006, Washington households and small businesses can earn direct payments for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity produced from self-owned solar, wind, or biomass generating systems. The incentive payments from PSE and other participating electric utilities are much larger — up to 54 cents per kWh, with a $2,000 yearly cap — if the power-generating systems use Washington-made components. As part of PSE’s contract with EI Solutions, Washington-based Outback Power Systems will provide 10 percent of the panels for the Wild Horse solar project. EI Solutions is currently completing the largest solar-power system ever installed at a single corporate campus — a 1.6-megawatt (MW) system atop Google’s HQ in Mountain View, California. Blue Oak Energy, a specialty solar-engineering firm, has been hired by PSE to review the project’s design and ensure that its equipment can withstand harsh winds of up to 120 mph that have been recorded at the site. “We are looking forward to working with PSE, EI Solutions, and Blue Oak Energy,” said Mark Thomas, president and CEO of Outback Power Systems. “The Wild Horse solar project gives us an excellent opportunity to showcase renewable energy in Washington and demonstrate the viability of solar power right here at home.”