Nation’s Largest Solar Highway Project Opens To Rest Stop Visitors

Will you be traveling in Oregon along Interstate 5 some time in the future? You may want to have a look at the Baldock Solar Station on your way while taking a rest from driving.

One year after breaking ground, the nation’s largest solar highway project — a partnership between Portland General Electric and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) — is now open to visitors stopping to take respite from their travels along Interstate 5 in Oregon.

Growing clean, renewable energy amongst farm fields of corn and cabbage, the Baldock Solar Station is a 1.75-megawatt solar array boasting nearly 7,000 solar panels across seven acres of the Baldock Safety Rest Area, located on Interstate 5 northbound near Wilsonville.

Visitors to the station can learn about solar power and Oregon’s solar highway installations through a variety of interpretive displays and walk along a sustainable community garden bordering the site created by Oregon State University Master Gardeners.

Built and operated by PGE on land owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation, the $10 million solar array went online in January and is expected to produce 1.97 million kilowatt-hours of energy each year — equivalent to 11 percent of ODOT’s need in PGE’s service territory.

The Baldock Solar Station is also an all-Oregon project, meaning consulting, construction, analysis and other materials also were provided by Oregon companies. Its 6,994 panels were produced by SolarWorld of Hillsboro, Ore., with inverters provided by Advanced Energy of Bend, Ore.

The station is the second joint highway solar project between PGE and ODOT and will help PGE meet the state’s Renewable Energy Standard of providing 25 percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2025. To date, PGE has a combined 37.7 megawatts of solar power online by utility and customer resources in Oregon. Nearly 3,000 PGE customers have solar electric systems installed on their homes and businesses.

Bank of America provided financing for the project, with additional support provided by Energy Trust of Oregon, PGE’s Clean Wind program and the state’s Business Energy Tax Credit program.

More information about the Baldock Solar Station can be accessed here.

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  • Rob D

    Just gorgous……….. NOT!!!!!!

  • MrEnergyCzar

    Year round income….unless the sun explodes…


  • John D.

    What goes through my mind is:
    (Cost of materials / lifespan) / Kw produced = X
    Does this produce power at a reasonable rate?
    One thing that gives me pause on both solar and wind is the incredible amount of energy needed and used in the construction project. What is the break even point? We think of wind and solar as free, and in theoretical terms it is. However, in practical terms a lot of old fossil fuel was used to build whatever harvests the energy. As long as the lifespan exceeds the energy payback period, then at least no harm has been done, but sometimes we are too quick to jump into something before we do the math.

  • nyc

    To John D. The break even point on energy used to create PV panels is approximately 4 years. The lifespan of PV panels is greater than 30 years (most are warranted for 25-30 years), possibly indefinite. Other than physical damage, I know of no reason why a PV panel would stop functioning. There is no wear and tear on the panels.

    In comparison to the energy required to build a huge furnace with turbine, the energy required to make/build a solar installation is minimal. There is no need for bricks or high temperature welding. Most mounts for panels can be attached to poles and cemented into the ground. The “incredible” amount of energy needed and used in the construction project is incredible in that it is tiny in comparison with virtually any other construction project.

    Your point is a good one, though, but your concern is misplaced in this one. Once this constuction is completed, this installation will require virtually no additional input of energy from fossil fuels for the rest of it’s existence. On the other hand, a oil, coal or gas furnace will require constant input of fossil fuels and energy to produce any energy at all.

    And to boot, did anyone notice that both the panels and inverters were made locally?