Petitions against gas-fired power plant circulated
Although the petitioners understand the need for more power plants, the reopening of the generation plant on Lamonta Road is being questionedResidents living near the old Pine Products sawmill on Lamonta Road don't believe that is the right place to put a power generation plant. Approximately 40 of them have signed petitions asking the state not to approve the proposed Air Contaminant Discharge Permit for the energy company.
The owners of the company, Prineville Energy, LLC., plan to replace the old wood fired boilers in the mill's power plant with natural gas fired equipment. Electricity generated will then be sold to a utility. An environmental engineer with the Department of Environmental Quality's regional office in Bend said there have been a lot of inquiries from people interested in building a power plant. One that has been making news recently, the proposed Grizzly Mountain facility to be located near the Jefferson and Crook County line, has its detractors. And so does the Prineville Energy, LLC.
The issue of air contaminates is paramount in both cases. DEQ's public notice for the proposed air contaminant discharge permit listed the emissions that would be covered and the amount allowed to be emitted. Kelly Kirkland and her family have lived in that part of the county for more than ten years and she is concerned about those emissions.
The proposed limits set by the permit deals with tons per year. For some, such as nitrogen oxides, the PSEL (proposed significant emision level) would be 39 tons per year. Carbon Monoxide, under DEQ's permit, would have a PSEL of 99 tons per year. That, Kirkland believes, is too much.
"We understand the need for power and that the supply is not meeting demands," she said. "But locating the plant in a neighborhood is poor, it's too close to homes and should be in a more rural place."
She also thinks her family and others in that neighborhood are not the only ones at risk. With the winds blowing, as they do from the east, she believes the "chemical poisons" will be blown over downtown Prineville, too.
Kirkland said that a number of her neighbors, worried about the impacts on their families and their property, circulated petitions.
Those petitions with about 40 signatures were FAXed to the regional DEQ office before the deadline for public response. Copies were also hand delivered to the Crook County Court. requesting a review of the proposed land use application for the construction of the generation plant.
County Judge Scott Cooper responded to each of the signatures on the petitions and explained the accepted procedure for appealing land use decisions. The county planning department had approved the application early in June, Cooper pointed out in his letters. The review period for the final decision was in late June.
"While I understand your concerns," he wrote, "at this time I regret that there is no legal mechanism for the county court to reopen this matter."
Another issue not directly addressed in the petitions but is a concern of Kirkland is the discharged cooling water. Recently she said she came across a discussion about "spent toxic water that had been used to cool the generators. Where is that water going to go," she asked" "Into the ground or back into the creek?"
That is a question, she believes, someone should have to answer.
The Proposed Air Contaminant Discharge Permit is reportedly one of the early steps in the process of getting the generation plant up and running. If the permit is approved, the applicant, Prineville Energy, will maintain fuel usage levels below certain set levels. The facility will be inspected by the state to make sure those levels are not exceeded. At first glance, the proposed emission limits appear to be sizable. However, DEQ's environmental engineer said he didn't consider it to be as bad as it sounds when asked about the 99 tons per year of carbon monoxide that the permit would allow.
The plant would produce CO only if oil is burned as a hear source, and that would happen only in very rare situations.