Solar company wants to lease state land in Crook County

But county leaders want more future jobs

Solar farm could put be on hold in Crook Co.

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - A plot of land in Crook County is getting some attention from state and county leaders on what should be developed on the property. 

The 160-acre parcel, located on George Millican Road, is at the center of a debate, as Upstream Clean Energy, based in Sydney, Australia, wants to lease the property for three years.

But Crook County Judge Seth Crawford told NewsChannel 21 on Friday that the proposed solar farm would create fewer jobs, whereas a manufacturer or data center on the property would create hundreds of jobs, which would benefit more people.

The Crook County Court submitted a letter on Wednesday to District 55 State Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, asking for help on resolving the issue. 

"What we're talking about is getting the maximum amount of jobs out of this property as possible," Crawford said. "And what we're seeing is a manufacturer or data center on this property is going to be much more advantageous to our community than bringing in a solar farm that were talking about two jobs." 

The land is under the ownership of the Department of State Lands and is located inside Prineville Urban Growth Boundary and the area's enterprise zone. 

Crawford said the property would work better as a commercial area. 

"It's about planning and looking at where things fit the best.," he said. "When you have a solar farm that has low employment, that doesn't need water and sewer, that needs to be in an area that doesn't have services."

Preston Mann, communications director for McLane, emailed NewsChannel 21 saying: 

"McLane has been in contact with Crook County Commissioners, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, Governor Kate Brown and members of the Legislature about this issue and is working to develop a solution that allows this land to be used in a way that maximizes the economic development benefits for Prineville and Crook County."

Department of State Lands Director Jim Paul said in an email: “We’ve been in communication with local officials and are aware of their concerns. We’ll be reviewing the work we’ve done to date, and I will work with staff to determine the next steps.”

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