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Ellensburg residents express concern over solar farms proposal

Ellensburg residents express concern over solar farms proposal

ELLENSBURG, Wash. - Some people living in the Kittitas County are voicing their concerns over a solar farm proposal.

The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council or EFSEC put together a hearing to take comments from residents of Ellensburg and inform them about TUUSSO Energy’s proposed Columbia Solar Project.

According to a press release, The plan is to convert 230 acres of farmland into a solar complex by November 2018. The solar utility complex would be the largest in the state.

But several residents like Dick Carkner with the grass – roots group, Save Our Farms Kittitas Valley, says the solar panels will not be beneficial to the economy because it will eliminate farms and reduce farm jobs.

“Solar is great, so is agriculture, so is having food on the table. We need to save our farmland," said Carkner.

Kittitas County commissioners passed a moratorium earlier in the year to not give out any permits for utility scale solar until a thorough examination was done to determine the best places for industrial solar.

But in October, TUUSSO Energy requested an expedited review process from EFSEC to start construction.

EFSEC may accept the review if they determine the environmental impacts are not significant enough.

“If it is undertaken by EFSEC they will have 60 days to get their recommendation to the governor and ultimately the governor has the final say over whether or not the project is decided," said EFSEC Spokesperson Kate Griffith.

Carkner says the project is moving too fast and there’s other places where the solar panels can be placed.

“There are literally thousands of acres of land that qualify in terms of slope access to the grid and so on, there’s really no need to put this on agriculture," said Carkner.

Vice president of TUUSSO Energy Jason Evans, did not want to be on camera but during his presentation, he did say they have done several examinations to determine the best locations for this project, and that this will bring great benefits to the community.

EFSEC staff took everyone’s thoughts and concerns, and will have to make a decision by the beginning of next year.

If you want more information on the Kittitas County solar project click here.

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