By Shari Phiel, August 14, 2014, The Daily News
Northwest Innovation Works, which wants to build two methanol plants along the lower Columbia River it says would employ nearly 500 people, took the first step toward bringing natural gas to its proposed Kalama location.
An agreement with Williams’ Northwest Pipeline sets in motion a plan to construct a 3.1-mile natural gas pipeline to the planned Kalama plant if the methanol plant gets local, state and federal approval.
Natural gas is the raw material used to make methanol.
This is one of the first tangible steps that China-backed Northwest Innovation has taken since announcing it wants to build plants in Kalama and Port Westward, a combined $3.6 billion investment and create about 480 permanent jobs and 2,000 construction jobs over the next five years.
“We’re really beginning the permitting work in earnest,” spokeswoman Charla Skaggs said.
In April, NW Innovation announced plans for a third methanol plant, at the Port of Tacoma. The company has said it hopes to have all three sites operational within three years.
Methanol produced at the plants would be shipped to Asia to be used in the production of olefin, a component used to make plastics for many everyday products.
Permitting for the methanol plant also is moving forward, Skaggs said.
NW Innovation hired BergerABAM, a New Jersey-based consulting firm, to provide environmental and permitting expertise for the project. Under a separate contract, BergerABAM will assist the Port of Kalama with the permitting activities that fall under the port’s purview.
“Everything looks good and we’re really excited to see they signed the contract,” said Port of Kalama’s Liz Newman.
In a written statement, NW Innovation President Murray Vee Godley hailed the signing of the gas line and permitting contracts.
“We’re now two steps closer to making the jobs and economic growth that will be generated by our project a reality for the Kalama community,” Godley said.
In 2012, Northwest Pipeline filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build a pipeline to the port property for a proposed power plant that never was built.
As part of the agreement with NW Innovation, Northwest Pipeline will re-file its original application with FERC for authorization to construct and operate the new 24-inch diameter pipeline and other facilities to deliver the necessary volumes of natural gas to the methanol facility.
The route is expected to be similar to the previously identified “Timber Rock route.” Final details of the pipeline route will be determined through the FERC regulatory process.
Permitting processes for the pipeline, the methanol plant, and the Port of Kalama will begin soon, and will include opportunities for public comment and engagement.
“It’s important to us to continue to keep the community updated with our progress,” Skaggs said.