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Posted on  

July 19, 2002

Columbia County closer to getting ethanol plant

Portland General Electric, Cascade Grain and the Port of St. Helens, Ore., are putting the final pieces together to bring an ethanol processing facility to industrially zoned land in Columbia County, near the city of Clatskanie.

PGE holds a 99-year lease to approximately 852 acres of the industrial property at the Port Westward site where the new ethanol processing facility is proposed. PGE has operated its 500-megawatt natural gas-fired Beaver Generating Plant at the site since 1976, and last year added a 24-megawatt "peaking" unit in response to the region's energy crunch. PGE has worked with Cascade Grain to create a sublease agreement that would allow the ethanol plant to be sited near these existing power plants.

"This is a very complex process and Cascade Grain has been great to work with," explained Ron Johnson, vice president of power supply at PGE. "Whenever there is a proposal to locate major industrial projects in close proximity, there are a number of appropriate steps that must be taken. We are pleased to emerge from that process with a green light to move forward to the next step."

That next step involves obtaining a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for water outfall from the ethanol plant's operations and other proposed future operations. The issue will be reviewed in a public hearing by the end of October.

"If the Port of St. Helens can obtain the required NPDES permit for the outfall, we can move forward with our construction plans," said Charles Carlson, general manager of Cascade Grain. "Cascade Grain will provide over 50 new jobs with an annual salary and benefit package of approximately $2.5 million. Additionally, a related on-site carbon dioxide plant will add another 20 to 25 jobs to the local area."

Fagen Inc. of Granite Falls, Minn., is the designer and builder for the ethanol project. In the last five years, Fagen has developed and constructed 60 percent of the fuel ethanol industry capacity in the United States.

To support the Cascade Grain project and two more proposed power plants--one from PGE and another from Westward Energy--area infrastructure upgrades will be needed. To that end, Columbia County has formed an urban renewal district and is taking the lead in obtaining local and state funding to improve roads and other services. Tax funds from the operations of the proposed developments will also help fund the improvements.



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