UPDATED WITH NEW WEBSITE ADDRESS: Thirty Citizens Gathered at Proposed OPALCO Solar ‘Microgrid’ Location Today

This is a written summary of the recorded video above.
This video was streamed LIVE as it happened on CNL2.
This video is 38 minutes in duration.
NOTE: Audio quality at times is poor.

Approximately 30 citizens, virtually all San Juan Island residents, gathered at the corner of Bailer Hill & Douglas Roads at 1:00 p.m. today to discuss OPALCO’s proposed Bailer Hill Microgrid, a “community solar and battery storage site.”

OPALCO’s website states, “Community solar is a local solution to offset expensive mainland power and offer renewable power to co-op members who do not have the ability to install rooftop solar. OPALCO can use the solar and battery storage energy to offer a limited power supply for emergencies and to create increased redundancy.

“It’s close to the circuit that feeds the Town of Friday Harbor, Peace Island Medical Center, the SJI Fire Department, and the Friday Harbor Airport to offer back-up power in case of emergencies,” the OPALCO web page continues. “It’s an open, sunny location and the property was available.”

But in an email circulated among some Island citizens this week, Royce Meyerott — a local sculptor and opponent of the OPALCO project — invited residents to the intended location to “walk the area and talk about what this area will look and ‘feel’ like if this project is approved.”

Multiple concerns were raised in the nearly hour-long gathering, including:

  • The allegation that the the use of the property is a distortion of the land’s agricultural zoning
  • The expectation that a regular perch-tree for eagles will be removed
  • The opinion that a solar microgrid will ruin views in the valley
  • That solar batteries can be dangerous
  • That the amount of electricity generated and stored at the facility will be negligible, and not worth the cost
  • That diesel or natural gas back-up generators would provide more reliable, longer-running back-up power at a much smaller cost

Meyerott repeatedly stated that he supports solar energy generation in principle when it is located in the right place.

Meyerott was peppered by many questions, and many in attendance shared their own opinions, mostly against the proposed project.

More than half a dozen motorists passing by the gathering honked their horns, in apparent sympathy with the numerous protest signs staked in the ground and held by several roadside protesters.  One man, apparently confused about the nature of the gathering, rolled down his window and yelled, “No trail!”

To read more about the proposed microgrid project as described by OPALCO, click here.

A website created by Meyerott has been published:  It is http://islandenvironment.info.

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