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Troutdale Energy Center appeals order in contested case

DEQ issues developers air contaminant discharge permit


The contested case challenging the Troutdale Energy Center has taken a few small steps forward.

Several pilots organizations, conservationists and local residents have petitioned a New-York based energy company’s proposal to build a gas-fired power plant in Troutdale, citing threats to pilot safety, air quality, recreation, fish and wildlife habitat and scenery in the Columbia River Gorge.

Troutdale Energy Center, a subsidiary of New-York based Development Partners Group, applied for a site permit through the Oregon Department of Energy in July 2012 to build the 652-megawatt plant at the former Reynolds Aluminum site in Troutdale.

Before the Oregon Department of Energy can issue a site permit to build the plant, developers must get approval from the Energy Facility Siting Council, a governor-appointed state agency that will decide on the contested case.

On March 3, hearings officer J. Kevin Shuba granted party status to seven petitioners: The Columbia River Gorge Commission, U.S. Forest Service, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Michael Dianich of Corbett, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Oregon Pilots Association and Interlachen Inc., a homeowners association in Fairview. Shuba also declared what issues can be addressed in the case.

Development Partners has filed an appeal to the order asking the Energy Facility Siting Council to deny party status for Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and Dianich.

The developers argue Dianich and AOPA’s issues are redundant to other petitioners and should be absorbed.

The Energy Facility Siting Council will consider the developer’s appeal at 10 a.m. Friday, May 9, during the council’s meeting at the Oxford Suites in Jantzen Beach.

Oregon Department of Energy has recommended the council reject the appeal, arguing it’s prohibited under state law.

The department also recommends the council deny Development Partners’ request for an oral argument “on any substantive issues identified in the appeal,” according to an April 29 document written by Andrea Goodwin, siting and policy analyst at ODOE.

Developers also have the option to withdraw the appeal before Friday.

Friends of the Gorge also has filed a motion for reconsideration and clarification on three issues raised and left out of the case involving impacts to water and wildlife, and statutes that speak to those issues.

After the council resolves the appeal and another order is issued, the hearings officer will schedule a pre-hearing conference, which will then determine the schedule for the contested case.

Developers issued DEQ permit

In related news, the Department of Environmental Quality has issued an air contaminant discharge permit for the Troutdale Energy Center.

In response, the Friends of the Columbia Gorge and U.S. Forest Service have filed a joint petition for reconsideration of DEQ's permit.

“Our specific area of concern is impact to the National Scenic Area from air pollution,” said Nathan Baker, attorney at Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

Baker said there is both legal and scientific issues.

“Legally DEQ is required to protect and enhance air quality in the scenic area, and DEQ failed to meet that obligation,” Baker said.

The groups raise concern that plume blight from the Troutdale Energy Center's proposed smoke stack will have a direct impact on air quality, and haze will decrease visibility in the Gorge.

Nitrogen deposits emitted from power plant also run the risk of altering the diversity of lichen in the scenic area, Baker said.

“Basically its tampering with the natural balance of the ecosystem,” he said.

Pending the petition for reconsideration, DEQ will have 60 days to respond to the petition from May 2.

“We are asking the DEQ to revoke the permit or revise its analysis,” Baker said.

He said the Troutdale Energy Center would be the equivalent to having the Camus paper mill added to the Oregon, perched approximately 500 feet from the left bank of the Sandy River.

He said there could be additional air pollution controls installed in the facility to reduce impacts.

“This is the gateway to the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area,” Baker said. “DEQ really failed to even consider whether the issuance of this permit would protect or enhance air quality in the scenic area.”




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