The Island Guardain
Locally Owned & Operated
360-378-4900 - PO Box 38, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
The Island Guardian is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists
Solar Plant
On March 13 Opalco filed a notice of application with the County for a permit for a power plant at the corner of Douglas and Bailer Hill rd. The property is just under 20 acres and their proposal calls for a 20% coverage of the property with solar panels and misc. support structures. There will be a non-permeable pad that is 115ft x 135ft (15,525sq ft.) for batteries and transformers that will be surrounded by a 10ft. cyclone security fence. The entire property will also be fenced and screen landscaping is planned along the roads. The two pairs of Bald Eagles that call the large firs on this property their home and hunting grounds are not mentioned in Opalcos' 110 page application. Their roosting Fir trees are to be removed.
This property is the SE corner of the San Juan Valley and it is designated for Ag use. The county has determined that this power plant fits the Ag zoning designation because the panels only cover 20% of the surface of the property. The AG zoning also calls for the county to take into account the aesthetic implications of a proposed project such as this one. Opalco has not really addressed the visual impacts that the project will have on the area or on the views across the entire San Juan Valley. This project will have the “charm” of a penitentiary and will most certainly ruin the aesthetics of this well traveled corner.
The public comment period lasts for the next 3 weeks and closes on April 3. The project then goes before the Hearing Examiner for approval on April 24th. We are not given much time for our consideration!
Final thoughts:
1) all islanders should be aware of this project and its implications for this beautiful corner, its wildlife and its views across the San Juan Valley.
2) islanders should visit the site and actually get out of their cars and look at what we stand to lose. They need to get out of their heads (that says “solar good”) and into their hearts to visualize how this project will transform this very visible location.
3) I am not against Solar Power generation, but Power Plants (like all building projects) must be located at appropriate sites because they can have negative impacts on their surroundings. Imagine what our islands would look like if engineers and lawyers made all design decisions. Our “rustic charm” can be quickly transformed as it was recently when Opalco “trimed" trees along Roche Harbor Rd. and Pear Point Rd.
I invite all Islanders to meet me at the Douglas/Bailer Hill corner this coming Saturday March 16 at 1 pm. We can walk the area and talk about what this area will look and “feel” like if this project is approved. Please invite all of your friends. Especially invite those that love Solar power so that they can at least be aware of the potential “costs” associated with this project.
Royce Meyerott

Solar PlantSolar energy is terrible for the environment in a number of ways, including the fact that large land areas must be devoted to it. At Forbes, Michael Shellenberger highlights another problem with solar energy: it produces vast quantities of hazardous waste, which are not being adequately dealt with.