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OPALCO's Bailer Hill Microgrid project now in permitting

Note: This project is currently in permitting and will be offered to members when permits are complete, hopefully in 2024.

The Bailer Hill Microgrid project on San Juan Island is a future Community Solar and Battery Storage site. Community Solar is a local solution to offset expensive mainland power and offer renewable power to co-op members who do not have the ability to install rooftop solar. OPALCO can use the solar and battery storage energy to offer a limited power supply for emergencies and to create increased redundancy.

Once fully permitted, members will be able to purchase solar units to offset a portion of their electric bill. Members get a return on investment while switching their electricity to clean, local power.

Why this location? It’s close to the to the circuit that feeds the town of Friday Harbor, Peace Island Medical Center, the SJI Fire Department and the Friday Harbor Airport to offer back up power in case of emergencies. It’s an open, sunny location and the property was available.

This will be OPALCO’s second microgrid project. The first, Decatur Island Microgrid, has been producing solar and generating credits for member investors since 2018. OPALCO’s long-range plan includes building multiple microgrids to provide a small supply of lower energy resilience to keep essential services running when our mainland power supply is disrupted. These projects are funded by member subscriptions and grants.

Stats about the project:

  • Located on 19 acres on San Juan Island at Douglas Road and Bailer Hill Road
  • 1 MW of Battery Storage (on average roughly powers 650 homes for 4 hours)
  • Currently OPALCO has Oak Knoll Farm sheep grazing on it. Entire parcel will remain open to livestock grazing throughout the duration of the project
  • 2.7 MW Solar Array – 600 panels
  • Array will produce 3,800 MWh annually – 5% of our annual output for our whole system
  • $1M of the project is allocated to towards OPALCO’s low income energy assistance program through grant funding
  • Current status: staging contractors and materials, applying for conditional use permit

Once the project is permitted, detailed information on purchasing solar units will be available online at www.opalco.com.


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