The proposed $400 million generating facility would be located near the Jefferson/Crook County line and its negative impact on either county would be minimal, says developing company

   The proposed $400 million generating facility would be located near the Jefferson/Crook County line and its negative impact on either county would be minimal, says developing company
   Whether or not an electric generating plant is constructed near the Jefferson/Crook County line is still being looked into, but according to the company proposing the development, there is a demand for power in this area that the plant will supply.
   The construction of a power generation plant east of Highway 26 close to Grizzly Mtn. just across the Jefferson County line has been proposed by Cogentrix Inc., a North Carolina company. The $400 million project is still in the early stages of development and a lot of questions are being asked, both by county officials and people living near the proposed plant site. Some of those residents live in Crook County, within a mile or so of the site of the proposed project. A number of the residents have formed into a watchdog group calling themselves Friends of Central Oregon.
   During a public hearing on the project, held in Madras last month, a lot of issues were brought up. The common theme among the questions had to do with potential environmental impacts generated by the plan.
   Cogentrix currently has power generation plants in operation around the nation. At this time, the company has five in the planning and development phase. The southeast Jefferson County project is one of the five. The proposed development site is about two miles east of the highway, east of the Bonneville Power Administration's Grizzly substation. The site is also in the vicinity of the Pacific Gas pipeline facility.
   The power plant, when in operation, would be fueled mainly by gas and would have an easy tie-in to the Northwest power grid at the Grizzly substation. Part of the power would be generated by steam, the heat source coming from the gas-powered portion of the plant. The proposed plant is expected to be a major power facility, producing approximately 1,000 megawatts of power, enough to serve a city the size of Portland.
   The proposed location was chosen for a number of reasons, but mainly because of its proximity to a natural gas line and a power substation. Another factor in picking the Jefferson County site was that the nearest residence is a mile away.
   Early this week, company officials visited the site and met with some of the concerned residents and members of the Friends of Central Oregon.
   One of the points that Jeff Freeman, Cogentrix Vice President of Public Relations, wanted everyone to understand is that the company is just beginning the investigation process. That part of the procedure, he said, is quite lengthy.
   "If the project goes exactly as it is meant to go, it is very, very early in the process. If it goes as we hope it develops, the actual application will be made to the state by mid summer and it will take a minimum of a year for their review process to be completed. Add at least two years to build the plant ... I'd say approximately 40 months before it's in operation," Freeman said.
   Responding to the concerns presented by the local people, Freeman produced a lengthy list of answers to frequently asked questions. "This is not the first time we've heard of these issues," he explained. "Every time we go into an area to build a new plant, almost always the same questions come up."
   Cogentrix, he pointed out, has a lot of experience with power plants, having 26 plants nationwide, either completely or partially owned by the company. This will be one of the largest, he added, with a total of four modules. "All the others are identical, using the same basic structures. One being built in Virginia will have six modules and others have three, but all are basically the same."
   The main issues that concern the residents include such things as water quantity and quality, noise, air emissions, stack plumes and visual pollution that would be associated with the power plant.
   Freeman explained that these are typical concerns. "Water consumption is the most sensitive of all the issues the company faces with a new plant," he said. "The water is needed and we have to take steps to identify sources before any of the necessary permits are issued."
   The plant will need a lot of water, to make steam for the steam turbines and to cool the steam back to water. According to the answers provided by the company, the annual average consumptive water need is expected to be about 5,320 acre feet. Broken down, that equates to approximately 4.75 million gallons per day.
   As part of the permitting process, the power company will apply to the Oregon Water Resource Department for a new water right. The company's engineering team has not yet finalized the design of the water system, but the basic design approach includes the following:
   A portion of the surface water from the Deschutes River currently lost through infiltration from irrigation canals will be recovered by improving the efficiency of the irrigation water delivery system.
   The improvements would possibly be made by constructing an impermeable lining within the canals or converting a canal delivery system to a pipe delivery system.
   When completed, the engineers foresee a saving of approximately 12,500 acre-feet, or 11.2 million gallons per day. Twenty-five percent of the conserved water, 2.8 million gallons per day, would be allocated to the state as an in-stream water right. In other words, the company says, the flow of the Deschutes River downstream from the city of Bend will be increased by this amount.
   The water needs of the Grizzly Power Plant will, the company says, drawn from the Deschutes aquifer in southern Jefferson County. A comprehensive analysis will be performed by experts to verify the ability of the groundwater supplies to deliver the quantities needed and to ensure that the water can be delivered with no impact on existing wells in the area.
   Other questions brought up by the Friends of Central Oregon zeroed in on air emissions. Visible emissions from the plant, according to Cogentrix, may be in the form of water vapor from the cooling towers. The visibility of the plume will depend on the atmosphere's ability to absorb moisture at any given time. It is expected that due to the dryness of the air, the plume will not be visible during a majority of the time.
   Because the proposed project will use natural gas, it is expected that the same types of emissions typical of residential natural gas stoves and furnaces will be emitted into the air, only in greater quantities. The company says the project will use environmental control equipment specifically designed to minimize emission from the plant. These controls will make the plant one of the cleanest power generation facilities in the Pacific Northwest, the company claims.
   Part of the permitting process will include state Department of environmental Quality testing and oversight.
   Noise, Freeman explained when asked, will not be as reported "... of four 3-phase jet turbine engines." Once operational, he said, "anyone standing outside the fence will not even be able to tell the plant is in operation."
   In Oregon, the Energy Facility Siting Council decides whether large energy facilities may be built. The list of agencies that must sign off on an application is long, with at least 20 separate permits and certifications being awarded before the council grants its approval. At nearly every step along the way, members of the public will have opportunities to comment.
   "Experience gained through the successful development of similar energy projects has shown Cogentrix that perhaps the most important component of a project is community input and support," states the official company response.