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Mid-Columbia could be smart energy center October 31, 2009

Filed under: Manufacturing,Renewable/Green Energy,Smart Grid,Washington — nwrenewablenews @ 2:04 pm
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The Mid-Columbia’s future could be as a smart energy center, says the first public look at plans being developed by a coalition of area business leaders led by the Tri-City Development Council.

One opportunity to do that may be by launching a carbon-friendly project to reduce the 45,000 gallons of diesel that the Hanford vitrification plant could require per day when it begins treating radioactive waste, said Gary Petersen, TRIDEC vice president of Hanford programs.

He and Keith Klein, president of the Local Business Association, spoke about the new Smart Energy Initiative at the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday.

Community leaders have long been concerned that the region’s economy relies on the Hanford nuclear reservation’s environmental cleanup. Now about 11,500 people are employed there. But as soon as 2015, when areas of the reservation are cleaned up, employment could start a long decline.

“In the meantime, we have an opportunity to rebrand ourselves,” Klein said.

A vision for the region’s future began to develop after DOE began discussing the idea of focusing more cleanup money on reducing the contaminated footprint of nuclear weapons sites across the nation.

Newly available land then could be turned into industrial parks to research and produce clean energy.

At Hanford, about 60 square miles of land would be available for an energy park, primarily in the southeast corner. Land likely would be leased rather than sold.

Since January, a coalition of local leaders in energy businesses, economic development, job training and education have been meeting to brainstorm strategies to develop the Mid-Columbia’s potential as a clean energy center.

The TRIDEC group is looking at three potential projects with different energy sources for the vitrification plant, Petersen said. While the group is not ready to discuss specifics, two projects would be carbon-neutral and the third would produce a smaller carbon footprint than the diesel fuel now planned to be used at the plant.

Under the current plan, the vitrification plant would use a combination of diesel fuel, which could peak at 45,000 gallons per day on cold winter days, and 70 megawatts of electrical power.

As the Smart Energy Initiative moves forward, TRIDEC will need to know what land and facilities DOE would be willing to make available for private use, Petersen said.

Among TRIDEC’s interests is pitching the 250,000-square-foot Fuels and Materials Examination Facility at Hanford for recycling nuclear fuel that has been used once at commercial power production plants.

TRIDEC and the coalition of business leaders also need some seed money and would like a better way to cut across all the DOE offices for the support they need. For instance, land managed by the DOE Office of Environmental Management is proposed for an energy park at Hanford, but the office can only spend money on Hanford cleanup.

But it’s not just the Hanford resources that would contribute toward making the Mid-Columbia a clean energy center. It already has an impressive energy infrastructure, Petersen said.

About 40 percent of Washington’s total power and 100 percent of its wind power is produced within 100 miles of the Tri-Cities, Petersen said. Power generation within 100 miles comes from wind, hydroelectricity, coal, natural gas and a nuclear plant, with biomass power being developed.

It also has the science and technology backbone needed to become a smart energy center, with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington State University-Tri-Cities’ Bioproducts Science and Engineering Laboratory and the Tri-Cities Research District.

The area has multiple energy companies ranging from Areva, which produces the nuclear fuel for 5 percent of the nation’s power supply, to companies focused on wind and solar energy.

By Annette Cary – http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/northwest/story/934438.html

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