Yesterday (Feb. 27) SunPower and Moss Construction began building the 56-megawatt Gala Solar Power Plant in Crook County, OR, which is slated to come online by the end of 2017. The new project was hailed by the Governor and local officials as an opportunity to get low-cost renewable energy and a good jobs creator.
“I’ve often said that in Oregon, we don’t believe economic development and environmental stewardship are mutually exclusive ideas,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D). “The approximately 300 jobs expected to be created by the Gala Solar Power Plant are proof we can grow our rural communities and support a vibrant and innovative renewable energy industry.”
Though the project is large, at 56 megawatts, it’s dwarfed by projects in Oregon’s southern neighbor, California, where solar farms have grown to more than 100 MWs. The size of the projects, however, are impacted by state laws and utility needs. As the cost of solar power has come down, the reasons for launching large, utility-scale projects is changing.
Increasingly the cost of solar projects are allowing them to be developed under the PURPA Act established in the late 1970’s. That law requires utilities to purchase power generated by qualifying facilities at the cost a utility would incur if it provided the energy to customers through its own new power plants or from nonqualifying facilities. However, it was not clear whether this project is PURPA-financed project or not.
“While solar is cost-competitive today, SunPower is continuing to drive the cost of energy down through innovation and integrated complete solutions such as our Oasis platform,” said Ty Daul, SunPower vice president, Americas Power Plants. “We’re pleased to contribute to economic development in Oregon with the construction of this milestone project.”
The new project will use SunPower’s latest Oasis platform for solar power plants. It’s designed to use 50 percent fewer parts than conventional solar plants and features a solar tracker design. Together the fewer parts and standardized tracker is designed to reduce the cost of the system while reducing the amount of time it takes to install and commission the system.
“We are excited about the new generation of SunPower’s revolutionary Oasis tracker system,” said Mike Little, executive vice president at Moss. “This system dramatically simplifies utility scale solar. SunPower has optimized every component of the power plant, reducing not only components costs, but construction installation costs.”Tweet