OPALCO solar panel project still under review

Submitted by San Juan County

San Juan County’s Department of Community Development is still reviewing OPALCO’s application for a conditional use permit. The review is currently on hold for additional information. DCD has agreed to a deadline of July 28, for OPALCO to provide materials in response to the county’s request for additional information made on March 28, 2024. The requests were clarified in subsequent meetings between OPALCO and DCD staff held in April.

OPALCO is expected to be able to meet the deadline in the continued pursuit of land use approval for the proposed development.

What additional information did the County request?

DCD staff’s March 28 request was a revision of an earlier request made on February 29, based on SEPA review notes, public comment, and third-party critical area review of the application’s critical area document initially included in the application’s submittals. ‘SEPA’ is an acronym for State Environmental Policy Act.

The full request is detailed in the County’s email dated March 28. As an overview, the County requested the following information from the applicant:

Response to deficiencies concerning critical area documentation submitted for the proposed development (concerning potential wetlands and fish and wildlife habitat critical areas)

Revised project narrative addressing all updates concerning revised clearing and grading documentation as well as any expected revisions to critical area reports

Response to SEPA review notes concerning a) potential impacts to PHS listed wetland on-site, b) potential losses to AG resource lands, and c) potential visual impacts.

What did OPALCO and DCD staff meet about in April?

OPALCO, now represented by Van Ness Feldman, LLP (frequently referred to as VNF in correspondences), requested a meeting with DCD staff to seek clarification on the requests made in March.

Not all parties could meet on a single date so one meeting was held on April 15 to discuss points 1 and 2 noted above. A second meeting was held on April 23 to discuss the SEPA comments (point 3 as noted above). A summary of both meetings was shared via email on April 24, 2024.

When can the public expect a new hearing date for OPALCO’s project?

OPALCO has until July 28 to provide the requested information for review. Once received, DCD staff will need to review the materials to determine if they are sufficient for continued processing at that time. If determined sufficient, DCD staff will continue the SEPA review (as well as general land use review) of the project to make a SEPA determination, which will dictate the deadlines for SEPA comments, potential SEPA requirements, and then, finally, an expected date for a Hearing Examiner Meeting.

Once deemed sufficient and accepted for review, the most current application materials will continue to be made accessible for public access. Written public comment continues to be accepted by DCD staff. Please continue to send public comments to marcs@sanjuancountywa.govm or by letter to

San Juan County RE: LANDUSE-23-0122 OPALCO Microgrid

Community Development

P.O. Box 947

Friday Harbor, WA 98250

The Hearing Examiner date is still to be determined.

If there is any change in the date it shall be posted in the appropriate newspapers.

Hearing Examiner agendas (which include links to live web-streaming) may be viewed via the online Agenda Center when published.