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Cogentrix meeting slated for Jan. 16

Public information meeting will allow public to ask experts questions

   The first public forum on the Grizzly Power plant since intent to build was filed will be held next Wednesday, Jan. 16, at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
   Officials representing a wide range of interests and expertise will be on hand to answer questions about the proposed natural gas-powered electric generation plant.
   The event, sponsored by the Oregon Office of Energy, is a public forum to answer the public's questions, and is not a public hearing. No testimony will be taken.
   Representatives from Grizzly Power, LLC (a subsidary of Cogentrix) are scheduled to attend. Others expected at the forum include officials from the Oregon Office of Energy, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Water Resources Department, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bonneville Power Administration.
   The forum will be held in the fairground's Maccie Conroy Building. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. to allow those interested to view display information. The forum will ensue at 7 p.m.
   Since the North Carolina-based company's interest in the southern Jefferson County location first became public approximately a year ago, the proposed facility has generated plenty of interest. Many back the project for its various economic benefits, while others have raised concerns about its extensive water use and the potential for air and ground contamination.
   Until filing its official application for site certificate on Nov. 30, Cogentrix shied away from addressing many specific questions about its plans, noting that many details had not been determined. Meanwhile, during the past year those against the project organized into a coalition to work against its approval.
   Grizzly Power wants to construct its 980-megawatt facility south of Ramms Road, approximately 13 miles southeast of Madras, on about 33 acres of a 333-acre parcel. Grizzly Power plans to runs a natural gas pipeline from the energy facility about 1.3 miles west to connect with existing PG&E Gas Transmission-Northwest interstate pipelines.
   A 3,000 foot overhead transmission line would run from the energy facility to the existing Bonneville Power Administration/Portland General Electric substation. The line would connect with the substation's 500 kilovolt switchyard.
   Plans also call for a water pipeline to run from the facility to a well field about 13.5 miles west. The facility is expected to use 4.5 million gallons of groundwater a day, an amount that many residents fear could lead to depleted water resources within the watershed. Bob MacRostie, longtime director of the Deschutes Valley Water District, disputes that claim, contending that the vast amounts of water within the Deschutes watershed aquifers would easily feed the needs of the plant. Water would be discharged to on-site evaporation ponds.
   The facility would emit hazardous pollutants, but to be approved it must meet federal standards for air quality. The Oregon DEQ has jurisdiction over the necessary federal air quality permit. The facility would have exhaust stacks about 175 feet tall and produce a visable water vapor plum under certain conditions.
   
   The state Energy Facilities Siting Council will eventually determine if the Grizzly Power Plant will be allowed. The state Office of Energy serves as staff for the siting council, and reviews the application to ensure that it is complete and then for compliance with state standards and land use requirements.
   The Office of Energy will eventually recommend the Siting Council either approve or deny Grizzly Power's application. The office will also conduct formal hearings on the proposal, during which time the public must comment on the record in order to participate in any eventual contested case on the proposal.
   But Wednesday's meeting is designed for the public to ask questions and learn, not to present testimony.