Port of ML considering talks with BPA for power

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald A U.S. Air Force B-52H bomber, based in Minot, North Dakota, prepares to land at the Grant County International Airport on Monday for four days of training exercises. This may be the last time the giant jets, which were based in Moses Lake in the early 1960s, are able to use the GCIA, according to Port of Moses Lake Director Jeffrey Bishop, as changes mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration to the GCIA’s runway lights will make the runways too narrow for the giant bombers to use.

MOSES LAKE — The Port of Moses Lake is looking at the possibility of talking to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) about power for its planned west-side industrial park.

“We need to be more cognizant of the total available power (in Grant County),” said Port Executive Director Jeffrey Bishop during a study session, which was part of the three-member port commission’s regular meeting on Monday.

Bishop said the BPA, which operates and markets power generated by over 30 dams and one nuclear power plant in the Pacific Northwest, is “almost as close as the (Grant County Public Utility District) for power to the industrial park.”

The BPA operates high-voltage transmission lines in Grant County, and has substations in the county near Wanapum Dam and along Frontage Road Northeast, just east of Interstate 90 and Dodson Road.

The Port of Moses Lake is seeking to create an industrial park of at least 100 acres west of the Grant County International Airport. The Port recently approved creation of a local improvement district to pay for a 3.5-mile-long road, as well as water, sewer and storm water pipes and connections to the electricity and telecommunications systems to the area. However, Bishop said he is uncertain if the BPA “is even willing to talk,” and any discussions would solely be about sounding out BPA interest in directly providing power to the Port of Moses Lake.

The Port of Moses Lake has also received a $250,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources to look at the feasibility of building a rail connection between the Port of Moses Lake and the Port of Ephrata.

The Port of Moses Lake currently has two rail projects it is working on, connecting the Columbia Basin Railroad (CBRR) to the Port via a new rail line parallel to Wheeler Road, and is helping with improvements to the railroad interchange at Connell, where the Columbia Basin Railroad connects to the BNSF railroad’s national network.

The Federal Railroad Administration and the Surface Transportation Board are expected to approve changes to the Wheeler Road route in November or December, Bishop told commissioners.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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