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March, 2010

Port Purchases Property Adjacent to Port Westward; Biomass Facility Announced

by Deborah Steele Hazen

TOURING PORT WESTWARD ENERGY PARK last Thursday, March 25, were Port of St. Helens commissioners and staff, representatives of the City of Clatskanie, Clatskanie People’s Utility District, Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District, and elected leaders and staff from around Columbia County. The Columbia County Rider bus that toured them around the industrial site stopped on the Columbia River dock where Port executive director Gerald Meyer told them about the facilities. The dock was originally built in 1942, when the U.S. Army constructed its Beaver ammunition storage and shipment facility at the location. After the Army closed its operations there, the Port of St. Helens bought the property for industrial development in the mid-1960s. It is home to Portland General Electric’s (PGE) Beaver power plant, the PGE Port Westward Generating Plant, and the Cascade Grain ethanol plant now owned by J.H. Kelly Ethanol, LLC. Chief Photo by Deborah Steele Hazen

The purchase by the Port of St. Helens of 41 acres adjacent to the Port Westward Energy Park near Clatskanie, negotiations for the purchase of hundreds more nearby acres, and plans for the construction of a biomass facility were announced during a tour of Port Westward and a meeting of the Port of St. Helens board of commissioners Wednesday, March 24.

At last week’s meeting held at the Clatskanie City Hall, Port commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of 41 acres from Westward Energy, LLC, a subsidiary of Summit Power, which had previously proposed to build a power plant on the property.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Port will pay $949,000 for the acreage. Port Business Development Manager Paula Miranda pointed out that, the Port also benefits from the investment Westward Energy had made in Port Westward infrastructure, including the water system, and “due diligence materials” that Westward Energy has assembled during the past several years that will be of benefit to other industries locating on the property.

In addition to the sale of the 41 acres, Westward Energy’s agreement to lease 83 adjacent acres owned by the Port, has ended, with control of that property returning to the Port. The total of 124 acres, located along Kallunki Road on the southeast edge of the main 905-acre Port Westward property, is now available for development. The main Port Westward property, once the Beaver Army ammunition depot, is owned by the Port of St. Helens but is under long-term lease to Portland General Electric (PGE) and the Cascade Grain ethanol plant.

Miranda noted that Westward Energy/Summit Power and the Port are on “very good terms, we have a great relationship.” Summit is now building a Texas plant where new technology for sequestering carbon emissions is being tested. At some point in the future, Summit may reconsider a project at Port Westward.

Biomass Facility Planned

During last week’s tour and in a press release issued Tuesday, Community Energy Systems LLC (CES) and the Port of St. Helens announced plans for the construction of a biomass facility on part of 124 acres previously owned or leased by Westward Energy.

“This project has required the hard work and cooperation of many people,” said Gerry Meyer, executive director of the Port of St. Helens. “It is exciting to see green businesses settling in Columbia County.”

CES has proposed a three-phase project for a 64-acre portion of the Port-owned site. The first phase would include construction of a test site that would produce three to four megawatts of electricity from biomass. The second phase would grow to produce up to 25 megawatts and could employ up to 25 people. The third phase, which could employ up to 60 people, would involve converting wood bi-products to biodiesel.

“Each phase of the project is dependent on the success of the first,” explained Port of St. Helens Commission Chair Robert Keyser. In addition to the permanent jobs, the project will likely generate hundreds of construction jobs at each phase, Keyser said.

Community Energy Systems LLC (CES) is a Colorado-based biomass energy project developer specializing in biomass energy projects in the Western United States. CES’s mission is to develop ecologically sustainable, community-based biomass solutions that build energy self-reliance for communities, tribes and businesses.

A second biomass business is considering developing at Port Westward, according to the press release. The Port hopes to announce details of this project later in the month.

Negotiations on Greenwood Resources Property

In another action item at last week’s Port board meeting, the commissioners authorized Port staff to sign an amended and restated purchase and sale agreement between the Port and Lower Columbia Tree Farm, LLC, also known locally as Greenwood Resources.

Under the terms of the agreement approved by the Port commission, but awaiting final approval by the Lower Columbia Tree Farm board of directors, the Port would have two years to finalize the purchase of 737.41 acres of property adjacent to Port Westward on the south and west. The property could be purchased at $4000 per acre in smaller parcels, if the Port so chooses to meet the needs of potential developers.

The proposed agreement also gives the Port first right of refusal on an additional contiguous 574 acres of Greenwood Resources property – potentially more than doubling the Port Westward industrial park.

Lease Extension for New PGE Plant

Also relating to new industrial development at Port Westward, the Port commission approved a resolution authorizing an amendment of the master lease between the Port and PGE in regard to the approximately 8.5 acre “footprint” of the proposed second unit of PGE’s Port Westward generating plant, the existing conservation easement for the first unit and a new conservation easement for the second unit.

The amendment would extend PGE’s lease of those areas until 2097 – consistent with the other areas of Port Westward where PGE has facilities.

Port commission president Robert Keyser told those at last week’s meeting that the prospects for PGE building its proposed approximately $200 million “peaking” plant at Port Westward are very high. The plant would provide back-up power for wind generation.

While it would create only a few permanent jobs, during the 12 to 18-month construction phase of the proposed new power plant, 100 to 200 workers would be employed. The plant would also help pay off the Port Westward Urban Renewal District infrastructure and road improvement projects, and ultmately would add significantly to the tax bases of Columbia County and local taxing districts such as the Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District, the Clatskanie Library District and the Clatskanie Park and Recreation District.

Cascade Grain Update

During the tour of Port Westward, a representative of J.H. Kelly Ethanol LLC, told the Port officials and community leaders that the company was negotiating with a potential buyer, and that other prospective buyers had also expressed interest in purchasing and operating the plant.

Keyser told The Chief that the Port has also met with J.H. Kelly Ethanol and potential buyers “to assist in any way we can to get the plant operating and people working again.”

Clatskanie PUD Reports on BPA Line Weather-Related Outage

Blustery winds early Monday morning, March 28, caused power outages for Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD) customers when the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) 115-kV transmission service to three PUD substations, including Conyers, Bradbury and Delena, was lost from 7:18-9:49 a.m.

The BPA transfer-trip protection scheme between Alston, Astoria and Naselle operated, dropping service to approximately 2,900 CPUD customers. District crews switched the downtown Clatskanie area onto Wauna substation, which is fed from the 230-kV system, at 8:45 a.m. by closing the distribution tie switch just west of Clatskanie. Approximately one-third of the Conyers Substation load (571 customers) was re-energized at that time.

All Delena and Bradbury loads remained de-energized. After hearing from the BPA that its repair crew that was headed this way had been re-routed due to a 500-kV outage elsewhere and that it might be sometime before service would be restored, Clatskanie PUD crews set out to re-energize additional customers in the Clatskanie area from the same Wauna source. This line, however, has limited capacity and it was necessary to pickup loads in small increments, a PUD spokesperson explained.

As PUD crews were readying to begin picking up additional load, BPA switchmen found a downed line near Naselle, isolated the problem and re-energized the Alston feed to Clatskanie and Astoria. The PUD then picked up its remaining customers at about 9:49 a.m. and brought the system back to normal.

BPA indicated that the problem was due to a parted wire.

While this is the first BPA-caused outage in the Clatskanie PUD service area in 2010, it is remembered that the district experienced six BPA-caused outages in 2009 and 15 in 2008.

The PUD, which expressed thanks to customers for their patience during outages, is continually looking for ways to maintain and improve system reliability, spokespersons said.

At the insistence of the PUD, BPA plans improvements to its Driscoll Substation located near Wauna, with construction set to begin this summer, and be completed by October. Once that work is complete, outages like the one this week would have been prevented, according to the PUD.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Booth. “The BPA shouldn’t be taking so long to restore the power when these outages occur. But, the good news is that the cure is coming soon.”

PUD Officials Attend Arrowrock Dedication…

THOSE ATTENDING THE DEDICATION OF THE ARROWROCK HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT stand atop the powerhouse and watch as the two nine-megawatt turbines are brought up to full operating capacity. The ceremony on March 23, which an estimated 150 people attended, including several from the Clatskanie PUD.

Photo Courtesy of Clatskanie PUD

Arrowrock Hydroelectric Project Completed

Following more than 25 years of efforts to develop the project on a nearly 100-year-old dam, power has begun flowing from the Arrowrock Hydroelectric Project located on the Boise River in Idaho.

Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD), along with five Boise area irrigation districts including Boise-Kuna, Nampa and Meridian, New York, Wilder of Idaho and Big Bend of Oregon developed the 18-megawatt project, with Clatskanie obtaining the 91,000-MWh of electricity expected to be produced in an average year, satisfying approximately eight percent of Clatskanie’s current energy needs, roughly equal to the electrical consumption of 7,500 typical households.

Construction of this project took less than 18 months and was done within the budget.

“It can be touted as perhaps the most modern and green hydroelectric project in the world,” says Greg Booth, PUD general manager. “We chose to invest in this wonderful hydro opportunity, which on a capacity basis is comparable in cost to wind projects but we’ll receive twice as much energy.”

The addition of Arrowrock to Clatskanie’s power portfolio will help meet Oregon Renewable Energy mandates, which requires mid-size utilities to get 10 percent of their power from qualifying renewable energy resources by 2025. It will also help to maintain Clatskanie’s ability to provide among the lowest electrical rates in the nation.

Easter Egg Hunts Set Saturday in Clatskanie, Rainier

Easter egg hunts are planned in Clatskanie and Rainier this Saturday, April 3.

The annual Clatskanie Kiwanis Club Easter Egg Hunt is set for 9 a.m. sharp at the Clatskanie Middle/High School playing fields. Parents and children are urged not to be late, as the hunt starts on time and is over within minutes.

The Clatskanie egg hunt is in three age divisions: toddlers to four year olds and five to seven year olds will hunt on the football field, while eight to 10 year olds will be on the baseball field behind the bleachers. There will be prizes for all participants.

The Easter Egg Hunt sponsored by the Rainier Eagles is set for Saturday, April 3, at 10 a.m. in the Riverfront Park for all children in the community up to 10 years of age with prizes and fun for all promised.

P.E.O. Tulip Sale Set April 2-3

BEAUTIFUL FRESH BOUQUETS of tulips, in a wide variety of colors, are being offered again this year by members of Clatskanie’s Chapter T P.E.O., represented in the photo by Janet Willey and Jan Gillespie.

The annual Easter-time tulip sale is set this Friday, April 2, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday, April 3, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The tulips will be sold in front of Hi-School Pharmacy and Some Like It Hot at the Evergreen Shopping Center, and inside Hump’s Restaurant.

Orders may be placed ahead of time by calling Janet at 503 728-2041 or Jan at 503 728-3030.

Proceeds from the sale go to support P.E.O. scholarships.

Chief Photo by Amanda Gail Moravec

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