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Evaluation council visits sites for proposed Kittitas County solar project

Evaluation council visits sites for proposed Kittitas County solar project

KITTITAS COUNTY, Wash. - A group that could delay or approve a major solar panel project in Kittitas County, took of a tour of the proposed farmland sites Wednesday.

The Columbia Solar Project proposes operating five solar panel sites that would span across 200 acres of leased land throughout Kittitas County.

The energy company with the project asked for an expedited review process. The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) is in charge of this review process and members of the council went out to the proposed farm land sites Wednesday afternoon for evaluation.

"Some of the things that the council looks at during its review process is land use requirements, environmental impact," EFSEC Communications Manager Kate Griffith said "So they just want to get a better idea of where these solar rays would be located if the project was given the go ahead."

Griffith said the council will be deciding how the project should continue.

"The council has a lot of discretion when it makes a decision about whether or not it will take the project up for review or whether or not we'll send a recommendation to the governor," she said.

Kathi Pritchard is with Save Our Farms and she said they are concerned about how these solar panels could hurt farmlands.

"Issues include irrigation issues, water rights, but also things like changing farmland into energy sources can increase greenhouse gas," Pritchard said.

She said she is glad the state came out to look at the sites and hopes this issue is studied seriously.

The council said they will be making a decision on how the Columbia Solar Project should continue by the end of April.

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