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Developer withdraws site application Jan. 26

The Troutdale Energy Center project has been abandoned. The project would have built a 652-megawatt power plant at the former Reynolds aluminum factory site in Troutdale, but the center's application with the Oregon Department of Energy was formally withdrawn Jan. 26.

The controversial project —which drew continuous complaint — had come under fire again in April 2015 as the Oregon Pilots Association alleged emission plumes would threaten air traffic flying over Troutdale.

“The aviation risk modeling results exceeded our worst fears. If the TEC power plant were constructed, we would have had to advise all pilots to avoid the northern flight pattern at Troutdale or risk a fatal accident,” said Mary Rosenblum, president of the Oregon Pilots Association in a press release. “Such severe risks are obviously unacceptable. We do not understand why the Port of Portland and ODOE both ignored the Department of Aviation’s opposition to this project. The Port of Portland should now focus on a more appropriate use for the project site.”

The July 2012 application was moving forward in a contested case with the Energy Sitting Council — a process which began back in January 2015.

Back in 2012, Portland General Electric asked for new energy sources, following its decision to close the Boardman coal-fired plant in 2020. The energy generated at the Troutdale plant was intended for PGE, but the TEC's bid was rejected in 2013, leaving the center without an energy buyer. But Willard Ladd, principal at Development Partners, the group working toward the TEC, said in 2014 they would proceed with the project anyway.

Friends of the Columbia Gorge has been one of the most outspoken groups against this project.

“The abandonment of this proposal is proof that it lacked merit from the start,” said Nathan Baker, staff attorney for Friends of the Columbia Gorge in a press release. “In terms of resource impacts, this is one of the worst sites in the State of Oregon to build a large power plant. The site is literally at the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which already suffers from significant air pollution problems.”

Those against the TEC cited a myriad of concerns from air pollution, to aquifer impacts, to noise impacts in the Columbia Gorge.

Although an air pollution permit had been issued by the Department of Environmental Quality for the site, the contested case was awaiting a hearing to cross-examine the center's witnesses when the application was withdrawn.

“Canceling this project is the right decision,” said Steve Wise, executive director of the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council in a press release. “This is a great day for the ecological health of the Sandy River, the Columbia River Gorge, and metro Portland’s air quality and energy future.”

Ladd did not immediately return request for comment on the decision.

Port of Portland — which owns the lot the TEC would have occupied — is moving forward with an option FedEx has for the lot in the Troutdale Reynolds Industrial Park.

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