Washington Governor OKs Five-Site Columbia Solar Project

Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., has issued a letter approving the site certification agreements for the Columbia Solar Project in Kittitas County.

The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) reviewed the proposal and submitted its recommendations to the governor in August. It is the first energy project approved by Inslee under EFSEC’s expedited review process.

The five facilities included in the Columbia Solar Project are sited just outside of Ellensburg and would have a collective generating capacity of 25 MW AC, enough energy for approximately 5,000 homes. In his letter, Inslee acknowledged the concerns about visual impacts and the potential loss of agriculture land.

“Preserving rural landscapes and agricultural land is important and one that I do not take lightly when considering the need and appropriateness of projects such as this,” Inslee wrote. “Here, the applicant has committed to site restoration and financial assurance requirements to ensure that the sites can be returned to agricultural use at the end of the useful life of the facilities.”

The project was proposed by TUUSSO Energy LLC. The five solar arrays and two generation tie lines would be constructed on 200 of approximately 232 leased acres within Kittitas County.

Inslee added, “While I believe that the council has properly considered the project’s consistency with local land use plans and ordinances, and I concur with the council’s recommendation, I am sympathetic to the perspective that simply meeting the legal requirements of preserving rural landscapes may seem unsatisfactory to some. When finalizing the vegetative management plan, I encourage the council and the applicant to consider including additional plantings to further mitigate the visual impact of the project on the landscape to the extent practicable, given other site-specific constraints.”

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