It seems a perfect site for a solar generating station: a grassy hill on a public right of way with good southern exposure, equipped with broad, flat terraces left over from the construction of a highway, now currently housing nothing more attractive than heavy equipment, gravel piles and work sheds. But the 47-acre site near interstate 205 slated for the world’s largest “solar highway,” a solar electricity generating station that runs parallel to the freeway, has met with criticism from some local residents of West Linn.
The Portland Tribute reports that the solar highway project will encompass thousands of panels over 13 acres and is expected produce up to 3 megawatts of electricity by day and power freeway lights by night–and that after commissioning feasibility/environmental impact and health studies, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) in partnership with Portland General Electric seems ready to move ahead. The City Council of West Linn has given the green light and construction is expected to begin next year.
While environmental impacts as determined by the commissioned studies appear negligible, skeptics point out that health studies could not conclusively prove there would be no ill affects associated with an electrical generating station of this size so close to residential and commercial areas. However, scientific research has yet to prove an actual link suggesting cause and effect between health risks and electrical fields.