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Plan for Power Plant Dries Up

by Benjamin Shors, Staff writer
Spokesman Review, April 11, 2002

Cogentrix plan envisioned using water from Columbia River to cool turbines

COEUR d'ALENE -- Cogentrix Energy canceled plans to build a power plant near the Columbia River, Washington officials said this week.

A company spokesman said it proved too difficult to get enough water to supply the proposed 800-megawatt natural gas plant.

"It became apparent that the water requirements were not going to be achievable," said Jef Freeman, spokesman for the Charlotte, N.C., company. "We needed to redeploy our assets elsewhere."

Cogentrix will continue to pursue air and water permits for a proposed plant near Rathdrum. Cogentrix is one of three companies proposing new power construction that would produce 2,100 megawatts of power, or enough to run two cities the size of Seattle.

Those proposals have been stalled by environmental and labor groups, who oppose the companies' plans to draw millions of gallons of water from the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

Cogentrix has offered to buy existing water rights to ease concerns that the plants could drain the sole source of drinking water for 400,000 people in Washington and Idaho.

The Idaho Department of Water Resources is expected to announce its rulings on those plants this summer.

At the Mercer Ranch site, the company originally planned to pump water 300 feet up from the Columbia. The plant would have used the water to power steam turbines. The water would then go to a pond, where it would be available to irrigate surrounding vegetable farms and ranchlands.

But the pond would have been subject to strict environmental regulations, Freeman said.

"The way it was going to be regulated made it too difficult to complete," Freeman said.

The Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council sent out a notice this week stating the company requested that the council stop its review of the project.

The Alderdale, Wash., project was planned on 40 acres owned by vegetable grower Mercer Ranches. Power and natural gas lines already cross the site.

The company also withdrew its request to connect to Bonneville Power Administration's transmission service.

"Definitely, the developers are not as anxious to develop if the price of energy is low," said Donald Rose, Bonneville's environmental specialist overseeing the project.

Benjamin Shors, Staff writer
Plan for Power Plant Dries Up
Spokesman Review, April 11, 2002

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