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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Plans to build solar farm in Whitman County scrapped

Thousands of solar panels tilt automatically toward the sun on a slope above Lind, Wash., on Nov. 8, 2018.  (JESSE TINSLEY/The Spokesman-Review)
By Emily Pearce Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Plans to build a solar farm in northern Whitman County were scrapped.

Vesper Energy, a Texas energy supplier, had proposed building a 900-acre solar farm west of Thornton, Wash., after announcing in December 2023 it had leased private land on Thorn Creek Road.

It’s estimated to have produced 100 megawatts of power at any given time, tied into Avista Utilities’ power grid at the Thornton substation. The farm would have also generated almost $15 million for the county in its 40-year lifespan.

The company had hoped to start construction at the beginning of next year until it had a change of heart this month.

After many conversations, Community Affairs Manager Alex Rohr of Vesper Energy said the Daystar Renewable Energy project will no longer be advancing. The primary reason, he said, was constraints related to transmission capacity.

He added virtually all utility-scale developments require an agreement to tie into the power grid. Based on study results and other internal project considerations, the energy supplier chose to end the process.

The decision was also brought on by a large amount of research and planning to determine if the site was viable, Rohr said. Many projects don’t reach the operating stage, he added.

Rohr said during the company’s time developing the project, it contributed $16,000 to Whitman County organizations through its community giving program. He said no matter what stage of the project, Vesper Energy seeks to deliver a positive impact and intentional engagement with communities.

Recipients included the Friends of Whitman County Library, the United Way of Whitman County, the Rosalia School District, the Pine Creek Community Restoration Long Term Recovery Organization, Palouse Habitat for Humanity and the Palouse Alliance for Healthy Individuals, Families and Communities.

Vesper Energy is grateful to Whitman County officials, residents and landowners for engaging and partnering on the project, Rohr said.