Solar Panel Project Sites

The High Top/Ostrea solar site is pictured off State Route 24 Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, near Sunnyside, Wash.

Public comments are being sought and a hearing scheduled as the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council considers two Yakima County solar farm proposals.

The online meeting for the High Top and Ostrea projects is 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, with written comments accepted at the EFSEC offices in Lacey.

“At this meeting, the applicant and EFSEC staff will make presentations,” an EFSEC notice states. “The public will then have an opportunity to provide comment for the council’s consideration.”

California-based Cypress Creek Renewables is seeking approval for the two 80-megawatt solar farms along State Route 24, about 20 miles east of Moxee. High Top and Ostrea sites cover roughly 1,600 acres each, with the solar panels and other equipment planned on 613 and 908 acres, respectively, almost entirely north of the state highway.

They are separate projects because they would be served by different power lines: High Top by PacifiCorp’s Union Gap Midway 230 kV transmission line, and Ostrea by Bonneville Power Administration’s Moxee to Midway 115 kV transmission line.

Earlier this month, the EFSEC board unanimously approved an order granting expedited processing to Cypress Creek Renewables. This requires public hearings and permit reviews for the adjacent solar projects to be scheduled within 60 days. Should EFSEC approve the permits, its recommendation would be sent to Gov. Jay Inslee for final approval.

Conditions of approval

In its public meeting notice, EFSEC officials said they are seeking public comment on the solar projects in four major areas:

  • Compliance with development standards or criteria set forth in the Yakima County Unified Development Code (YCC Title 19).
  • Ensuring compatibility of the development with existing neighboring land uses, and assuring consistency with the intent and character of the county’s agricultural zoning district.
  • Ensuring the structures and areas proposed are arranged and screened so they are compatible with and not detrimental to existing or reasonable expected future development of the neighborhood, or resource uses, consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan.
  • Achieving and furthering the intent, goals, objectives and policies of the Yakima County Comprehensive Plan and Unified Development Code.

Copies of the High Top and Ostrea applications for site certification are available online at efsec.wa.gov. Select the “Energy Facilities” tab and choose the High Top and Ostrea projects.

Written comments may be sent to EFSEC at P.O. Box 43172, Lacey, WA 98503-3172.

To participate in the Nov. 29 public meeting, click the “Council Information” tab on the EFSEC website, scroll down to “Council Meetings” and click on the 2022 Council Agendas link. A Nov. 29 council agenda will have the Microsoft Teams meeting link, and a phone number with a conference ID code.

Those wishing to speak are encouraged to sign up ahead of the meeting by calling EFSEC at 360-664-1345 or via email at efsec@efsec.wa.gov before 5 p.m. Nov. 29.

For further information, contact Ami Hafkemeyer, EFSEC’s director of siting and compliance, at 360-664-1305 or ami.hafkemeyer@efsec.wa.gov.

Contact Joel Donofrio at jdonofrio@yakimaherald.com.

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