Olympia Port Lands Wind Powerby Jim Szymanski
The Olympian, April 25, 2006
Windmill blades part of new cargo line;
Officials seek to expand variety of shipments routed through port
OLYMPIA -- A shipment of fiberglass windmill blades that arrived Monday at the Port of Olympia is the first fruit in an ongoing effort to add a new line of port cargo.
The blades are bound for a 70.5 megawatt wind-power project in Alberta, Canada.
One hundred fifty blades arrived from Brazil aboard the BBC Korea, flying the flag of Cyprus. The unloading is expected to be completed today.
The blades will be stored in the port's log yard for a couple of months as trucks arrive to drive them to Canada, said Jim Amador, the port's marine terminal director. The blades catch wind to turn electricity- producing turbines.
"It's nice to clear room in the log yard not because it's empty but because we have other cargo," said Amador, as he watched dock workers preparing to unload the blades.
Olympia beat out ports in Longview, Tacoma and Portland to get the shipment, said Petr Naceradsky, a spokesman for a Florida subcontractor handling the shipment for the manufacturer of the 125-foot-long blades.
In the coming weeks, trucks will drive the blades to a route along the Columbia River, through the Tri Cities area and north to Canada, Naceradsky said. He said Olympia's lower labor rates compensated for the extra cost of trucking the blades to a route along the Columbia rather than starting from a shorter distance at the Port of Portland.
Naceradsky said he also works with shipments of windmill parts from Asia for wind projects in Idaho. He said it was possible that Olympia could get more cargo related to wind projects.
The importing of windmill parts from Asian manufacturers typically enters the state through the Port of Longview, but Amador said it was possible that Olympia could bid for some of that business.
The wind-power movement in Washington has been slowed by rising aluminum prices and increasing demand for wind-generation equipment to be installed in China, said Marc Krasnowsky, a spokesman for the NW Energy Coalition, an alliance of about 100 groups promoting development of renewable energy sources.
But Krasnowsky predicted that Olympia port business could grow if Initiative 937 makes the November ballot and passes. A coalition of conservation groups, labor, farmers and clean-energy businesses is gathering signatures to qualify the item on the fall ballot. It would require the state's larger utilities to increase the amount of renewable resources in their electricity supply to 15 percent by 2020.
Hydroelectricity makes up about 60 percent of the state's power with most of the rest coming from natural gas and coal, Krasnowsky said.
About 2 percent comes from wind, solar and biofuels, he said. "It would be great if those blades were going to wind farms in this state," Krasnowsky said of the Olympia shipment.
I-937 supporters have been touting it to longshore unions as a possible source of new cargo business, he said.
The Olympia shipment could become a breakthrough for the port's mission of diversifying its cargoes from timber, aluminum and garnet. It is a test of the productivity of Olympia dockworkers and the reliability of their equipment, Amador said.
"If you do a good job, shippers continue to use you," Amador said.
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