County PUD Joins Larger Supplier
by John Stark
The Bellingham Herald, April 24, 2008
No extra power available yet
Whatcom County Public Utility District has joined Energy Northwest, the public power consortium that operates a nuclear plant, hydropower generator and other power facilities.
Currently, the local PUD's only power customer is the ConocoPhillips refinery west of Ferndale, but that could change.
PUD General Manager Steve Jilk said his agency has had discussions with other nearby industries, such as BP Cherry Point Refinery, wood treatment firm Chemco Inc., Praxair Inc. and Alcoa Intalco Works. Those industries are exploring their future power supply options, and there is a possibility that the PUD could play a role, although there are no firm plans.
The PUD supplies ConocoPhillips with power from the Bonneville Power Administration, but demand for that agency's low-cost power exceeds supply, and that situation is likely to get worse as regional power demand grows.
As of now, Energy Northwest has no surplus power to sell to Whatcom PUD, but Energy Northwest officials are themselves seeking new sources of power generation to meet regional demand, Jilk said.
Even if no power supply deals materialize, Jilk said Energy Northwest also offers administrative and technical services to its members, which now include 19 public utility districts and three municipally owned power systems.
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