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Proposed power plant could impact Crook County

A $400 million power generation plant planned for near the Jefferson/Crook County line raises concerns of nearby residents living in the Grizzly Mountain area
Construction of a proposed power generation plant east of Highway 26 close to Grizzly Mtn. is upsetting a group of nearby residents.
   The $400 million Cogentrix plant project is still in the early stages of development and a lot of questions are going unanswered. And the questions are there. More than 100 people attended a public hearing in Madras on the proposal early this month. The common theme among the questions had to do with potential environmental impacts generated by the plan.
   Cogentrix is a North Carolina company and currently has 22 power generation plants in operation. Another five are in the planning and development phase. The southeast Jefferson County project is one of the five.
   The proposed development site is about two miles east of the highway, east of the Bonneville Power Administration's Grizzly substation. The site is also in the vicinity of the Pacific Gas pipeline facility.
   The power plant, when in operation, would be fueled mainly by gas and would have an easy tie-in to the Northwest power grid at the Grizzly substation. Part of the power would be generated by steam, the heat source coming from the gas-powered portion of the plant. The proposed plant is expected to be a major power facility, producing approximately 1,000 megawatts of power, enough to serve a city the size of Portland.
   The proposed location was chosen because of its proximity to a natural gas line and a power substation. Another factor is picking the Jefferson County site was that the nearest residence is a mile away. Concerns from others, some living in Crook County, on the other side of Grizzly Mtn., were also voiced at the hearing.
   A number of people asked questions about water. The proposed plant is expected to use 6.25 million gallons per day for cooling and other purposes. People wanted to know where that water was coming from and where it would be discharged.
   Frank Neff, a hydrologist working with Cogentrix on the project, explained that the company might develop wells in the Crooked River basin. The wells would be connected to the plant by pipe, which would probably be buried.
   Other sources could also be from the North Unit Irrigation District. Neff said that the company might fund a canal-lining project for the district. Irrigation water saved by lining the canal would be used in the plant. The amount of water saved by the district's lining of eight and nine miles of canals in 1995-'96 brought a substantial savings of water. If Cogentrix were to fund a similar project, Neff pointed out, then a similar water-savings would be realized, providing a water source for the plant.
   Water discharged from the plant could also be returned to irrigators for agricultural use. That water, Neff said, would not hurt irrigators or fish. Such arraignments are in use at other Cogentrix plants.
   Although the proposed development is still in the early stages, some benefits to the local economy are being reported. About 300 new jobs would be created for Jefferson County during the two-year building phase, those attending the public hearing were told. When in operation, the plant would employ about 30 people. The plant would generate about $3 million per year in local tax revenues, also.
   The power generating company expects to be ready to submit an application for development to the Oregon Office of Energy later in the summer
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