PGE to build natural gas plant at Port Westward to meet variable energy demand

The new Port Westward Unit Two plant will be built adjacent to the existing natural gas plant on the site.

The new Port Westward Unit 2 plant will be built adjacent to the existing natural gas plant on the site. 

Portland General Electric announced Thursday it will build a second natural gas plant at Port Westward near Clatskanie to serve as a flexible generating energy resource, one of three energy sources required by the utility to meet future demand.

PGE (NYSE: POR) said it will begin construction of the plant this year and will expect the new resource to become available sometime in 2015. The project will create up to 200 new construction jobs and is expected to cost between $285 million and $310 million.

"We're pretty excited about this," said Jim Piro CEO and President of PGE. "This was the least cost and lowest risk for customers. … And it's in Oregon and will create construction jobs."

The 200-megawatt plant, cleverly named Port Westward Unit 2, was deemed a winner in a competitive bidding process for three types of new power sought by PGE: 300 to 500 megawatts of new baseload capacity, 200 megawatts of peaking capacity and 150 megawatts of seasonally variable power for use during peak demand.

The competitive bidding process was overseen by Accion Group Inc., an independent auditor, and the Oregon Public Utilities Commission.

Steve Corson, PGE spokesman, said the utility is in negotiations with a supplier for the baseload power plant but that no selection has been made. He added that the seasonally variable power sources will likely be acquired by PGE in the form of a power purchase agreement.

Port Westward Unit 2 will use reciprocating engine gensets supplied by Wärtsilä. Black & Veatch and Oregon-based Harder Mechanical, as a contractual joint venture, will have the turnkey contract for construction of the project.

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