December 2, 1017 | Ellensburg | Daily Record ~
Over the past year there has been an ongoing discussion about the development of solar farms in Kittitas County.
Just recently, the discussions have intensified.
On Oct. 17 TUUSSO Energy LLC, a commercial solar developer based in Seattle, submitted an application to build the Columbia Solar Project. The project would build five, 5 megawatt solar farms on agricultural land in Kittitas County. The project is estimated to cost $40 million to $50 million and would take five to eight months to build.
Instead of submitting its application directly to Kittitas County and its board of commissioners, TUUSSO opted to send it directly to the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC.
Kittitas County commissioners implemented a moratorium on commercial solar farms in January 2017 to give them time to work out new rules. The moratorium followed debate over a proposed project near Kittitas. A citizens advisory committee is now working to develop recommendations. At this point, the moratorium is set to expire in January, though the county might extend it to give the committee time to finish work.
EFSEC was created in 1970 to help site and permit large energy projects. The council allows the state to centralize evaluation and oversight of these projects to within one state agency.
Jason Evans, vice president of TUUSSO, said the Columbia Solar Project has a 15-year power purchasing agreement with Puget Sound Energy that started Dec. 31, 2016.
“Every day we are not online delivering power is time we lose in our contract,” Evans said. “We saw that the timeline the county had was not going to work.”