Getting 10 percent of Ashland's power from local, clean, renewable sources by 2020 would be worthwhile. But putting a solar farm on the Imperatrice property across Interstate 5 is not the way to get there.
The City Council last week directed city staff to continue exploring the idea, but judging from a city staff report from 2015, it makes little sense.
For starters, the property is outside the city limits, and within the Pacific Power service territory. That means Pacific Power would be entitled to buy and resell the power generated there unless the city built its own transmission lines and either built or purchased a substation it does not now own.
Even if that happened, the city is obligated to purchase power from the Bonneville Power Administration through 2028, and must pay BPA for that power even if the city replaces some of it with locally generated power. What's more, virtually none of the BPA power Ashland uses is from fossil fuel sources, so a solar farm would not reduce the city's carbon footprint.
If the city insisted on proceeding with a solar farm and managed to either transmit the power into town or pay Pacific Power to divert it, it would replace renewable energy now supplied by BPA with more expensive renewable energy, thereby raising electricity rates.
The city should not generate more costly renewable power it does not need just to be able to say Ashland has achieved the "local" part of the "10X20" ordinance.