By editorial board • 

The only objectionable glare here is the glare of groundless opposition

During a 1980 election-eve debate between presidential rivals Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, Reagan famously quipped, “There you go again,” in response to criticism he found especially specious.

Despite its advanced age, that rejoinder seemed apt for critics heaping hyperbole on the Yamhill County Planning Commission last week in opposition to a pair of rural solar projects. We can understand the prospect of a sewage treatment or waste disposal operation raising hackles, but nothing as benign as a solar array.

Cypress Creek Renewables, a green-power purveyor in Bend, wants to install a pair of 12-acre solar arrays on rural farm tracts in Yamhill County. It is proposing one for a 90-acre expanse of grass seed near Sheridan and the other for a 58-acre expanse of hay and pasture near Dayton.

The installations would feature panels to distill electricity from sunlight, an inverter to convert direct current to alternating, a fan to cool the inverter and transmission lines to carry the power to nearby Portland General Electric substations.

The company proposes to employ photovoltaic rather than thermal technology, minimizing heat. It plans to point the panels straight up for peak sun, minimizing reflection, and apply anti-glare coating for added protection.

It intends to secure the installation with fencing and screen them with native vegetation, minimizing accessibility and visibility. It will fashion the installations from inert materials, eliminating emissions.

The company promises to contract with a landscape firm to maintain the vegetative barriers and do all watering and weeding by hand, avoiding mechanized disruption. It pledges to remove all traces when it ceases operation, avoiding long-term impact.

It ensures the installations would pose no thermal risk to birds or thermomagnetic risk to people. And it indicates they would qualify for no state or federal subsidies, only the modest tax break available to any party putting up a solar panel in Oregon, even a homeowner.

What’s not to like, or at least accept?

After all, the owners of the land in question could spray toxic chemicals, spread ripe manure or engage in night harvesting under klieg lights without the need to consult planners or neighbors. Or they could launch something more objectionable, like a hog farm or mink ranch.

The sky is not falling here.

Reagan would be dismissing all the doom and gloom out of hand, and he would be fully justified.



I find it quite ironic that the N-R invokes the ghost of Ronald Reagan in defense of the proposed solar projects. Reagan was, of course, responsible for removing the solar panels that Jimmy Carter had installed on the White House, and was so environmentally ignorant that he chose James Watt as his Secretary of the Interior. So Reagan wouldn't be "dismissing all the gloom and doom out of hand", because he would never have supported such a project, period. Don't get me wrong, I am 100% pro-solar. In this case, as long as good agricultural land isn't destroyed for this installation, I'm for it. It would certainly have a relatively benign impact on the surrounding properties. But the editorial writer should get a little more educated about solar power before writing such a piece. It seems pretty clear that he or she isn't familiar with the technology. PV panels don't "distill" electricity from sunlight. And unless Sheridan and Dayton have been relocated to the equator, there is no way the panels will be pointed straight up. If indeed that is what Cypress Creek Renewables is proposing, it's time to find a different installer.

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