The Bear Lake County planning and zoning committee met Feb. 15, the chief agenda item being a conditional use permit for a proposed solar facility near Pegram.
Representatives of Avangrid Renewables, the parent company of the smaller outfit seeking the permit, gave a brief presentation outlining the project. Avangrid began studies in 2020, upon a request-for-proposal by Rocky Mountain Energy for alternative energy tie-ins.
As proposed, construction would begin in 2025 and be complete in 2026. The facility would encompass some large portion of 4,700 acres of leased land along Poverty Flats Rd. in the east valley, though engineering and land use plans are not yet complete.
The plan calls for a 325-megawatt generation facility, an optional battery storage component, and interconnection to PacifiCorp’s Naughton-to-Treasureton transmission line.
Avangrid estimates the construction would entail some 250 to 300 jobs for the duration of the build, and then minimal staff to maintain the facility.
A large contingent of citizens showed to hear the proposal and to comment, with the bulk of the comments ranging between cautious and full optimism.
Roy Bunderson remarked that in his time working those hills as a youth, he noticed “about the best thing you might grow out there is a good jackrabbit or rattlesnake,” and concluded that the heart of the issue is a property owner’s right to make the best use of his land.
Others concerned about aesthetic impact were reassured that the array of panels would not be visible from the valley, nor even the overlook descending out of Logan Canyon.
Several environmental points noted along the way: the facility will feature almost no water use, very little noise, and non-glare panels that shouldn’t interfere with birds or other wildlife. No hazardous materials will be left behind at the conclusion of the project’s life cycle.
In the end the committee voted unanimously to approve the permit, with a caveat that the developers must meet the various other regulatory hurdles along the way.
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