Stop solar farm nonsense

While Tom Marvin is no doubt well-intentioned and knows a lot about physics, his continued advocacy for a costly and unnecessary solar farm on the city-owned Imperatrice property can and should be dismissed as little more than feel-good “greenwashing.”

First, the city did a geotechnical study of the Imperatrice property in 1999. It found that in an earthquake, the hillside soils will liquefy. This is hardly a good location for an energy production facility.

Next, the solar farm is unnecessary. Thanks to the success of conservation and energy efficiency programs, the Pacific Northwest enjoys a large surplus of electricity. In fact, last spring, the Bonneville Power Administration actually had to shut down its wind power facilities because there was no market for the power being produced. The power that would be produced by a solar farm is not necessary to meet demand, which can be more cost-effectively met by increased conservation and efficiency.

Third, the notion that the clean, green renewable energy the city currently purchases from the BPA will only get more expensive over time is not borne out by current realities. Due to the aforementioned over-supply, the BPA now sells power on the spot market for less than what Ashland pays under its power purchase agreement. The BPA's Tier 2 rates have also recently been lower than the Tier 1 rates Ashland pays. It’s nice to see  Marvin finally acknowledge that the solar farm will result in an increase in Ashland electric rates, although he low-balls the actual impact.

Finally, a solar farm will do nothing to make Ashland’s power purchases cleaner or greener. Ashland purchases its electricity from the Bonneville Power Administration, which primarily produces clean, green, renewable hydropower. The city then pays a small premium to make 100 percent of its purchases renewable power.

The solar farm has nothing to do with power supply, energy security or a greener future and everything to do with a small group of people who are seeking the self-righteous satisfaction of looking across the freeway at a solar farm. The City Council should put a stop to this nonsense now and either repeal the 10x20 ordinance or get busy on meeting the goals of the ordinance with increased conservation and rooftop solar.

Dave Kanner