College of the Environment Graduate and Undergraduate Publications

Alternative title

Orcas Power and Light Cooperative Community Solar Project

Date Permissions Signed

Fall 11-9-2017

College Affiliation

Huxley College of the Environment

Date of Award

Fall 2017

Document Type

Environmental Impact Assessment

Department or Program Affiliation

Department of Environmental Studies


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Laninga, Tamara Jean


The Orcas Power and Light Cooperative (OPALCO) reached out to its members about their interest in a community solar project. After deciding that there was enough interest, the utility asked solar installers to submit proposals for a ground-mounted solar array. Community solar provides an opportunity for more people to be involved in generating clean energy. OPALCO members can buy a portion of the whole array, and through virtual net metering, receive credits for the energy generated by their portion. While winters in the Pacific Northwest can be cloudy, energy generated during sunny summer days will be stored in a vanadium flow battery storage system for when it is needed. OPALCO has requested that a ground-mounted solar array be installed at their property on Decatur Island with up to 500 kW DC capacity. The panels will be purchased from Itek Energy, a solar manufacturing company based in Bellingham, WA, and barged in to the island from Anacortes, WA. Materials will then be transported about 1 mile south from the dock to the site. Construction will take place from approximately February through May of 2018. Due to likely negative impacts on the built and natural environment, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is needed. This report quantifies and assesses the significance of environmental impacts based on relevant research and information. In addition, this report offers possible alternative solutions to help reduce and mitigate negative impacts.




Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Solar collectors--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Decatur Island; Solar energy--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Decatur Island; Environmental impact analysis--Washington (State)--Decatur Island

Geographic Coverage

Decatur Island (Wash.)




environmental impact statements




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