Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, Oregon
The Eugene Water & Electric Board has approved construction of a huge natural gas-fired power plant on Umatilla land in northeastern Oregon. The utility's elected commissioners decided to sign an agreement with the tribes, the city of Hermiston and a private energy company that could lead to construction of the plant in 2004. EWEB, the tribe, Hermiston and Tulsa-based Williams Energy Co. all would own a portion of the plant, which would produce between 500 megawatts and 1,000 megawatts of electricity. Eugene's average hourly usage is about 350 megawatts. Commissioners will make a final decision in as few as 90 days, if the parties can agree to terms on cost, financing and how much money will be spent on environmental restoration and renewable energy projects. The utility could back out of the deal if it isn't satisfied with a final joint agreement. "That will be a major 'go, no-go' decision point,'' Scott Spettel, the utility's power planning manager, told commissioners at their meeting Feb. 28. The plant could provide Eugene with a substantial amount of its long-term future power needs, but more likely will be used during the next 10 years as a source of revenue to help offset the skyrocketing price of wholesale electricity, Spettel said.