Solar Station to Be Installed at Former Nuclear Reactor

The largest solar electric facility in the northwestern United States will be constructed on the site of a former nuclear power plant.

RICHLAND, Washington, US, 2001-04-23 <> Fifty kilowatts of solar PV modules will be installed in the first phase of the installation at the site of the terminated WNP-1nuclear reactor in south-central Washington. At least 27.5 kW could be installed and operating by this summer. The initiative was announced as part of Earth Day 2001 by the Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Northwest and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Each of the three partners will invest $50,000 in the first phase, and they anticipate that another $50,000 will come later from the U.S. Department of Energy’s ‘Brightfields’ solar grant program, through Washington State University’s Cooperative Extension Energy Service. “This is the second regional solar facility BPA, the Environmental Foundation and public power have collaborated on,” says BPA acting administrator Steve Wright. “The 30 kW Ashland Solar Project was dedicated only last summer. It shows that even in the midst of our present difficulties, BPA and its partners are continuing to invest in the region’s energy future.” An additional $50,000 has been committed by Newport Northwest LLC of Mercer Island, Washington, an affiliate of Newport Generation of Irvine, California. In total, the organizations will invest up to $250,000 in the first phase of the largest solar PV installation in the Pacific Northwest. Western Sun, a solar equipment buying cooperative associated with WSU, will assist with procurement of the PV cells and balance-of-station equipment. “This station will help meet the growing demand for green power in the Northwest and demonstrate the promise of solar technology for this region,” adds Angus Duncan, president of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. “Today, our public power members will get a head start in learning about this generation technology of the future,” says Dick Koenigs of Energy Northwest. Energy Northwest is a consortium of 13 public power agencies in Washington state and the operator of the Columbia Generating Station. It will own and operate the plant, delivering electricity through interconnection equipment that originally was intended to link the nuclear reactor to the grid. Additional donations from other partners and revenues from power sales will be reinvested in increasing the station’s capacity in the future. The estimated output of the solar plant will be 80,000 kWh annually for the full 50 kW first phase. “The Northwest isn’t thought of as a natural home for solar,” says Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. “But, in fact, the region has a world-class solar resource, as this project demonstrates.”

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