Deja WPPSS: Energy Northwest Board
by Associated Press
RICHLAND, Wash. -- The Energy Northwest board voted Thursday to go ahead with plans to build a 600-megawatt power plant in Western Washington.
The consortium of 19 utilities has not announced possible sites for the plant, which must have access to the Western Washington power grid. A primary industrial site and one alternative have been identified, but negotiations could take another month or two, said Tom Krueger, project manager.
Energy Northwest then would go through the process of securing a permit from the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. That process could take as long as 18 months.
The $1 billion plant could be generating electricity by the end of 2011.
The plant would use coal through a gasification process, rather than burning it directly, with regulated emissions similar to a natural gas plant. The proposal also allows the plant to capture carbon dioxide to possibly store underground.
"As a public power agency we are charged with providing economically and environmentally responsible options to our members. This project has the potential to let us use abundant domestic coal supplies and other fuels to produce large quantities of electricity in an environmentally responsible manner," Dan Porter, head of Energy Northwest's generation project development, said in a news release.
Porter also said that while Energy Northwest is a strong proponent of conservation and renewable energy sources, the utility does not believe those two options alone will meet future power demands.
Energy Northwest operates the Nine Canyon Wind Project, which produces about 63 megawatts of power with 49 turbines near Kennewick. The utility also has applied for a conditional use permit in Lincoln County west of Spokane to built a 50-megawatt wind project there.
The power plant is the most ambitious proposal from Energy Northwest since its failed attempt in the 1970s and 1980s to build five nuclear plants when it was known as WPPSS, the Washington Public Power Supply System. Only one plant was completed, and the system ultimately defaulted on billions of dollars worth of bonds.
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