Outback Solar reaches halfway point

The roughly 6-MW Outback Solar photovoltaic (PV) project has reached the 50% completion stage. Smart Energy Capital, BELECTRIC, Inc. and Obsidian Finance said they reached the construction milestone on the largest solar power plant in the Pacific Northwest and the first to utilize the Bonneville Power Administration’s transmission system.

The 5.7-MW project is located nine miles east of Christmas Valley, Ore. Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) will purchase all of the output from the PV system under the terms of a 25-year power purchase agreement.

Smart Energy Capital arranged financing and secured the transmission rights, power purchase agreement, incentive agreements, and the engineering and construction contract. The engineering, procurement and construction contractor, BELECTRIC, is building Outback as a self-financed turn-key power plant, with fully automated remote control operational capabilities.

Obsidian Finance started work on the project almost four years ago, acquiring key permits and the state tax credit as well as initiating work with the local electric utility and Bonneville.

The single-axis tracking ground mount solar array will utilize approximately 20,000 polycrystalline modules and is expected to produce approximately 10m kWh annually of zero-emission electricity when fully operational in October 2012. Outback’s construction is expected to generate 40 to 50 construction jobs at its peak, with around 80% of those jobs going to Oregonians.

“With the need to schedule and deliver power real-time over the Bonneville system, Outback is undoubtedly one of the more sophisticated solar projects in the country,” said Mike Grenier, Managing Partner, Smart Energy Capital.

The project is made possible by a $5m incentive from the Energy Trust of Oregon along with tax credits from the Oregon Department of Energy.