Columbia River PUD will name new facility Betsy Johnson Substation

A new electrical substation in Scappoose will bear the name of Sen. Betsy Johnson. A unanimous vote Tuesday, May 16, by Columbia River People's Utility District directors confirmed the newest substation, slated to be constructed near the Scappoose Industrial Airpark, will be named the Betsy Johnson Substation. SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Columbia River PUD Director Rob Mathers (left) shares his thoughts on naming the district's new substation after Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose. To the right, PUD Board President Jake Carter looks on.

The electrical facility will boost the energy capacity near the airport and give the PUD the ability to serve new industrial loads in Scappoose.

PUD staff and directors said making the new facility a namesake of the Scappoose senator seemed fitting, considering Johnson's role in bringing new industrial development to the region.

Johnson was instrumental in meeting with representatives from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Sheffield, England, and lobbied for state backing for the new Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center, modeled after the site in Sheffield.

The OMIC site, along with the recently constructed Cascades Tissue plant, spurred the need for a new substation near the airport in Scappoose.

"This new growth has the potential to provide hundreds of family-wage jobs for local residents, to grow the tax base in Columbia County, and to increase CRPUD revenues," John Nguyen, the PUD's general manger, read from a staff report Tuesday. "This progress is possible thanks to the vision that Senator Betsy Johnson has carried for the airpark for more than three decades, and her recognition of the ways that airports encourage economic development."

Nguyen also cited Johnson's support for the PUD and her work with the Oregon People's Utility District Association advocating for legislation that "protected the interests of consumer-owned utilities like CRPUD."

Directors said putting Johnson's name on the new substation is a way to recognize the state senator's longstanding investment in the airpark and her legislative efforts to help see the OMIC to fruition.

"It really is going to be a transformative entity and — wow — it's a great collaborative effort and she deserves a great deal of credit," Director Rob Mathers said Tuesday before casting his vote in favor of the new substation name. "She really pushed this thing. I think it's fully appropriate that the substation be named the Betsy Johnson Substation."

Director Craig Melton followed Mathers, calling it "an honor to name it after her."

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