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Oregon’s Solar Powered Highway

Avatar for Dave Llorens
Published on 02/04/2009 in
Updated 01/30/2014

Guest post by CelticSolar

Donned in sunglasses, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski ceremoniously raises his arms in the air

In August 2008, Oregon hatched a plan to be the first US state to have highway-side solar panels. Four months later, on the snowy 19th day of December 2008, engineers flipped the switch and the system started generating a modest amount of power.

This is a 104kW system comprised of 594 panels. Its annual production is estimated to be 128 megawatt-hours – enough to power about 10 typical homes for a year. However, The Oregon Dept of Transportation (ODOT) is using it to power the lights at the I-5 & I-205 exchange.

During the day when the highway lights are off and the sun is out, the PV panels will spin the nearby electric meter backwards. The result? ODOT’s power bill for this area will be one third less than last year.

If ODOT is able to switch to more efficient highway bulbs in the future, these PV panels will account for an even larger percentage of the interchange’s electric needs.

Below is an aerial view of the panels.

While there is no publicly available energy monitoring yet, here’s January 20th, 21st, and 22nd’s power production for this system. If you are used to reading solar output charts, you can tell that the 20th was a clear sunny day (the smooth hump). The 21st & 22nd, on the other hand were cloudy.

The pilot program has gone well and is likely the first of many similar installations to come. Expect to see more solar panels along the highways of Oregon and possibly even on other ODOT facilities.

Links:Oregon Solar Highway

Last modified: January 30, 2014

7 thoughts on “Oregon’s Solar Powered Highway

  1. Avatar for anjali anjali says:


  2. Avatar for Solar Power Solar Power says:

    How much did it all cost?

    10 reasons to switch to solar power

  3. Avatar for Nico Nico says:

    Dang, Gov. T is like a solar-powered mafia gangsta with his shades and that posture! But that’s a mafia i’d like to be part of…

  4. Avatar for sunny sunny says:

    Look around, everybody is aware that the world is in trouble. Others are doing something against pollution, crime and violence and the like, while others are promoting solar power utilization just like us. Two thumbs up for this city!!! I just hope that in the near future, the world will notice this radical but economical and logical way of diverting the funds for its proper usage. Moreover, we hope to see that this city will serve as a model for each and every place around the globe to convert and shift into the utilization of the solar power systems. In return, household members should have a general idea on the proper usage of this system, depending on the savings and proper use of the appliances and fixtures. You are doing a good job.

  5. Avatar for Emiliano Emiliano says:

    I like that the author mentions that using more efficient light bulbs not necessarily increasing output will increase the percentage of power produced by solar for the interchange. Due to it’s lack of nerdy and cool it seems conservation and efficiency sometimes gets overlooked

  6. Avatar for buy solar panel buy solar panel says:

    this is cool. it doesn’t look too unsightly either. I wonder about the security of them though. If that was in London where I live, they would probably be stolen.

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