Apologies for not following normal submission process, but the word limit just would not do justice to the issue in the article below by Katy Sword.
My name is Allen Johnson. I am the President of Interlachen Inc. We are a group of about 156 lakefront homes on Blue Lake and Fairview Lake located about 2 miles from the proposed Troutdale Energy Center (TEC). I found Katy’s article interesting and it gave a nice summary from the Department of Energy and Development Partners Group’s perspectives. A few points that I would like to bring to your attention:
As was stated, Portland General Electric (PGE) requested bids to build a plant to replace the output lost with the closing of the Boardman facility. That is what brought the opportunity to the attention of the Development Partners Group. PGE accepted the bids and then decided to go with the bid that PGE’s development group submitted. The Development Partners Group is an investment company based in White Plains, New York. Why did they decide to go ahead with building? They had a large capital investment in developing their bid. California needs power and their environmental rules make it too difficult to build such a facility there. Electricity is easily transported through the grid, so it doesn’t matter where the facility is located. Closer to user areas, certainly, but not a critical factor. So, they decided to build anyway and sell the power.
I do not know where the cooling tower blocking views of the Columbia Gorge Statement came from. That is the first I’ve heard of that argument. Having a large heat plume generated next to a landing strip for small aircraft certainly came up. That is why the Aircraft Pilots Association is objecting. The Friends of the Columbia Gorge are going after the 22.4 million tons of CO2 that will be generated per year, and other noxious gases and particulate matter. Interlachen was concerned about those issues, but they were being handled by larger groups. Our focus has been on the 5 million gallons of water the facility will use per day depending on level of operation. 4 million will come from the Troutdale Water Reclamation Facility. The Port of Portland will provide water and TEC is drilling an on-site well. Interlachen has four wells that supply our drinking water. Blue Lake is fed from a shallow aquifer. What isn’t known is the impact on our aquifer’s by the operation of this facility. The answer seems to be that no one knows how all of these aquifer’s flow or even if there is a connection between the aquifers, the City of Portland wells, and our aquifers.
From the Interlachen Homeowners viewpoint, we certainly do not want a facility East of us (with a prevailing East wind), spewing out pollutants from producing energy that won’t even be used here, to the financial benefit of a company based in New York. So, who is for it? Development Partners Group (financial benefit), City of Troutdale (taxes), Mt. Hood Community College (job programs), and the Department of Energy (supplements the grid). The State of Oregon Siting Council’s job is to make sure everyone’s viewpoints are heard and that all considerations are given before granting license. This isn’t a popularity contest. Unless we can show that we will be disadvantaged or suffer irreperable harm, they cannot refuse to issue the license.
So, here we are, involved in the process, but not too hopeful that we can prevent this facility from being built.
We would like to get our side of the story told. Rather than “protesters” we would prefer to be referred to as concerned homeowners and members of the East Multnomah County community. Please call if you need more information.
President, Interlachen Inc.
503 512 8222
Created on Friday, 26 December 2014 00:00 | Written by Katy Sword
Prehearing set Jan. 5, contested case hearing to begin shortly after
The Troutdale Energy Center is one step closer to beginning construction after a lengthy battle with protestors.
A prehearing conference is set for Jan. 5, which will discuss the completion of discovery as well as set the contested case schedule.
“The Troutdale Energy Center is under the Energy Sitting Council jurisdiction,” said Andrea Goodwin, Oregon Department of Energy analyst. “In that process there is a contested case that occurs. That’s what we’re in the middle of right now.”
The case is something every project must go through if applying for a site permit.
“Site certification is a binding agreement between the state of Oregon and its certificate holder, that covers construction, operations and eventually its decommission,” Goodwin said.
The TEC has gone through a lot to get to this point, which is potentially the final stage before construction begins.
Development Partners Group applied for a site permit in July 2012 for the 652-megawatt plant, to be located at the site of the former Reynolds aluminum factory near the Troutdale Airport.
This was in response to a request by Portland General Electric for new energy resources following the decision to close its Boardman coal-fired plant, scheduled for 2020. Although PGE opted to move forward with its own plan for a base-load plant near the former Boardman site, Willard Ladd, principal at Development Partners, told The Outlook in January the company would move forward with the TEC anyway.
This sparked contention from several groups in the Columbia River Gorge, including the U.S. Forest Service, Columbia River Gorge Commission, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Interlachen Home Owners Association, Oregon Pilots Association, Aircraft Owners and the Pilots Association.
Many objected not only the size of the proposed cooling tower — which might obstruct views of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, but said it would pollute the air with nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides and particulate matter.
“The Department (of Energy) concluded that the energy center would not have significant adverse effects on the environment,” said Greg Peden, a spokesman for Development Group, in January. “Development Partners agrees with the department’s analysis and conclusions contained in the department’s proposed order.”
The upcoming contested case will give the public another opportunity to voice its concerns with the proposed plant, although there are only five parties granted petitioner status for future testimony: Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Interlachen, Aircraft Operators and Pilots Association, Oregon Pilots Association and Michael Dianich, a naval architect who lives 15 miles from the proposed site.
The Columbia River Gorge Commission and the U.S. Forest Service also were granted party status, but withdrew from the proceeding.
Development Partners had filed a petition to now allow Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and Dianich to testify, citing redundant arguments. The company later withdrew that appeal before the Council had a chance to consider it.
With the Jan. 5 prehearing conference, hearings officer J. Kevin Shuba will set the schedule for the contested case.
“That schedule will better inform how long this could potentially take,” Goodwin said. “(The process) could be months, weeks, a year, 18 months, there’s really no set deadline.”
She added the contested case hearing is the tail end of a lengthy process allowing the TEC to move forward with construction and eventual opening.
“But we haven’t really got into the meat of the contested case yet,” she said.