The Daily 750

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LNG: The Hermiston Plant

Thursday, October 13, 2005

In 2002 Calpine opened a 600-megawatt, natural-gas fired power plant in Hermiston, Oregon. (Six hundred megawatts would power 600,000 customers every day.) The plant sells power into the Pacific Northwest and California and has tremendous support within at least some sectors of the community, with the Chamber of Commerce nominating it for a Governor's Gold Award in 2003 based on its community support activities.

The industrial culture in Hermiston is not like Astoria's. For one thing, there actually is an industrial culture. The new Calpine plant was built adjacent to a 450-watt PG&E plant; the Umatilla Indian Tribe is also seeking to build another plant in Hermiston, and there is little local opposition.

Others have written elsewhere about this plant and the workforce with which it was built. What caught my interest were the amendments to the site certificates requested and granted after both the Calpine facility and the adjacent PG&E facility were in operation.

I wonder: Is there anybody in the Lower Columbia who knows enough about LNG facilities to anticipate post-operational amendments and ask questions about them?

Here are the summaries of some of the amendments, copied directly from the Oregon Energy Facility Siting announcement site.

"The Council approved Amendment #5 of the site certificate for the Hermistion Generating Project. The amendment would allow the facility to build a pipeline and discharge wastewater that comes from the cooling tower blow-down and clarifier draw-down ("reclaimed wastewater") directly to Madison Farms."

"At its meeting on September 27, 2005, the Council approved a request by the Hermiston Power Partnership for Amendment #5 to the site certificate for the Hermiston Power Project (HPP). The amendment would reduces the amount of financial assurance funds necessary to restore the HPP site to a useful, non-hazardous condition when the facility is retired."

"The Council approved Amendment #4 of the site certificate for the Hermiston Power Project. The amendment allows the use of duct burning to increase the power output of the facility. It also allows an increase in water use and a change in the route of the transmission line."