EFSEC approves expedited review for Columbia Solar project - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

EFSEC approves expedited review for Columbia Solar project

Posted: Updated:

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council will move forward with an expedited review of the proposed Columbia Solar project.

Today the council determined the 25-megawatt solar project proposed for Kittitas County, WA, meets land-use and environmental requirements to be considered for an expedited review.

A project is eligible for expedited review if EFSEC determines the environmental impacts of a proposed energy facility are not significant or can be mitigated to non-significant levels under the State Environmental Policy Act and when a project is consistent with city, county, or regional land-use plans.

Expedited processing gives the council 60 days—or longer, if an extension is agreed to by both the company and EFSEC—to make a recommendation to Gov. Jay Inslee about whether the project should be permitted.

The governor will have final approval over whether the project is permitted.

In October 2017, TUUSSO Energy requested expedited processing of its application for a site certification agreement from EFSEC to construct and operate five solar arrays and two generation tie lines in Kittitas County. Collectively the installations would span 200 acres of leased land.

Each new solar array would be capable of providing up to 5 megawatts of solar energy within the Puget Sound Energy service area, for a total of 25 megawatts of electrical power generation.

After an extended public comment period, the council determined in February that the proposed project is consistent with local land-use requirements to qualify it for expedited processing. However, the council also requested a plan from EFSEC staff outlining how the council may gain more information about site specific concerns to inform its final recommendation to the governor.

In February EFSEC also issued a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) for the project, describing its potential environmental impacts. EFSEC found the proposed Columbia Solar project would not have significant adverse impacts on the environment, as long as all state and local regulations are followed and the company implements certain mitigation measures.

EFSEC staff drafted the determination after reviewing a completed environmental checklist and existing laws and regulations. A full environmental impact statement will not be required per state law.

For more information on the MDNS and the environmental checklist, click here.