Things are looking green on the west coast. Californian utilities are leading the way with strong investment and interest in solar, wind, and nuclear power. California even boasts the "nation's greenest airport". Meanwhile Californian citizens are seeing green in the form of a big grant program, which will subsidize solar panel installation for homes and put money back in consumers' pockets.
Now Oregon is looking to pitch in and do its part to gain a bit of solar power leadership. Oregon has broken ground on the nation's first solar powered highway. The new project marks a collaboration between Portland General Electric (PGE), US Bank, and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). All materials for the project will be designed and produced in state.
Governor Ted Kulongoski helped break the news, stating, "Before the year is over, this ground will hold the nation’s first Solar Highway project, and Oregon will make history using the power of the sun to light this interchange. More importantly, this project will represent a new era for energy in Oregon. It will represent a step forward toward our vision of an energy independent Oregon--and it will represent the endless opportunities before us to chart this course of clean, reliable and renewable energy for our state."
The governor and ODOT revealed the project last week. It will provide lighting at night at the interchange of two large highways in Oregon -- the Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 interchange in Tualatin.
The modest project is expected to be of demonstrative nature. It will represent how solar power can be used to accommodate growing power needs on our nation's highways and how such efforts can provide a boost to the local economy. The solar panels for the project will come from SolarWorld AG of Hillsboro, OR, while the inverter will be supplied by PV Powered, Inc. of Bend, OR.
The new installation will be pure photovoltaic solar and will provide 104-kilowatts of capacity. It will cover 8,000 square feet and will cover an area as long as 2 football fields. Its yearly kilowatt production will be around 112,000 kilowatt hours, almost 28 percent of the 400,000 kilowatt hours used yearly to light the exchange.
The project will cost the state and utility approximately $1.3M USD and should be completed and online by the end of the year. PGE already provides the electricity for the interchange, so it will provide the new solar power under a net metering arrangement. The panels will pump energy onto the PGE grid by day, and at night PGE will return an equivalent amount of power to the interchange.
Design, construction, and installation of the project will be completed by SolarWay. Solarway is a engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) consortium consisting of four Oregon firms: Aadland Evans Constructors, Inc., of Portland as the general contractor; Moyano Leadership Group, Inc., of Salem as the project manager and design leader; Advanced Energy Systems of Eugene as the solar power specialty designer and installer, and Good Company of Eugene as the community and sustainability specialist.
quote: Newer plant designs don't need access to a lake or river to operate. They can operate in a closed loop. Or you can do what the Palo Verde facility has done and use treated sewage to cool the plant.
quote: Solar only provides energy when there is sun. It is not a misconception.
quote: If its nuclear, well then factor in the real cost of storing the by products and the fact it also isn't an unlimited resource.
quote: Perhaps one day we will be mining the Asteroid belt for Uranium, or perhaps Naquadah.
quote: commercial electricity in Oregon costs 7.34 cents per kWh.
quote: Over the past 50 years, the price of electricity has consistency risen much slower than inflation. That may not be true over the next 50 years (especially if environmentalists get their way) but it is a factor to consider.
quote: This concept is flawed because it doesn't benefit the public at large that paid for the project. Unbuffered solar doesn't do anything to reduce loads during the 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. timeframe of peak demand, meaning that the utilities still have to build out the power plants and transmission lines to support peak power without any help from solar.
quote: So they need to use up 2 football field's worth of land just to get 28% of the power needed to light an interchange? Seems like a giant waste of space and money.
quote: It will cover 8,000 square feet and will cover an area as long as 2 football fields.
quote: ...and put money back in consumers' pockets.
quote: The Oracle of Omaha issued a challenge to members of The Forbes 400 in October; said he would donate $1 million to charity if the collective group of richest Americans would admit they pay less taxes, as a percentage of income, than their secretaries.
quote: and how much more do the oil companies make than the bottom 75% of all taxpayers combined? if a company makes a lot of money, such as exxon$ ($40b in revenues this year), which has posted record profits again this year, then is it unfair or unjust that they are paying more taxes than people who make $30k-$40k a year?
quote: The governor and ODOT revealed the project last week.
quote: It's all about politics. They're getting to spread good news! So when the next election rolls around, they can put another feather in their caps.
quote: Why are they doing it along the freeway?