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Clean Energy project
Written by Kelly Kaczala   
Monday, 28 October 2013 08:49

Oregon ready to ok enterprise zone agreement

Oregon council on Monday will consider entering into an enterprise zone agreement with Oregon Clean Energy LLC., for a tax exemption of 100 percent for 15 years on the increase in the assessed value of real and tangible property.

Oregon Clean Energy plans to construct an 800 megawatt energy generation facility for $652 million on a 30 acre parcel of land at 816 North Lallendorf Road, located within the enterprise zone. Upon completion, the facility will convert clean natural gas to electricity. There will be enough new electricity for 500,000 homes.

“We think this is a great arrangement,” Mayor Mike Seferian said at a committee of the whole meeting last Monday. “We’re really proud of this project.”

The Enterprise Zone Act allows counties, with the consent of affected municipal corporations or townships, to execute such agreements for the purpose of establishing, expanding, renovating or occupying facilities and hiring new employees and/or preserving jobs within the enterprise zone in exchange for tax incentives.

The project is expected to create about 450 construction jobs over three years, and 26 new full-time, permanent jobs once the facility begins operations, with a total annual payroll of about $3.2 million.

The city has already approved an agreement with Clean Energy for the plant’s use of the raw water intake system that will generate about $1 million per year, which will help keep the water and sewer rates low, said Administrator Mike Beazley.

The Oregon City school board has also approved a tax incentive donation agreement with Clean Energy, which will annually contribute funds to the district for 15 years. For the first five years, Clean Energy will pay the district $850,000 annually. The amount increases to $1.2 million annually for the next five years, then $1,450,000 annually for five years afterwards. At the end of the 15 year agreement, the district will have received payments totaling $17.5 million from the Clean Energy agreement.

“The schools come out ahead. It’s a real win for our schools,” said Beazley.

“When Mr. Beazley and I chose to go after this project, we had to think about whether this would be a great fit for the city,” said Seferian. “We didn’t have to think that long.”

William Martin and Bill Siderewicz, managing partners of Oregon Clean Energy LLC, which is owned by North America Project Development LLC, of Boston, were at the meeting.

”We have been coming for three years. We plan on having the plant operating in the summer of 2017, so the simple math is seven years to develop a power project,” said Martin.

“One of the criteria that we used was, `Do we think we can work in the town, with the town? Do we think there’s going to be support?’ I have to say that this has been a terrific town to work in for the past three years,” said Martin. “We’re not just saying that. It’s just simply true. Very professional. We’re very impressed by the care you all have for the city itself, and it helps us integrate our work with the needs of the city. We’re really glad we chose Oregon over other communities.”

An example of cooperation is the air permit the company was able to secure in the summer, he said.

“It’s the single, largest achievement a plant can have, other than its contracts and actually producing electricity,” said Miller. “And we’ve had public meetings in the community. There was 100 percent support by the community.  We were able to gain the air permit at a very good pace that really enabled us to continue having the summer of 2014 as the construction start date, and the summer of 2017 as the date we’ll be generating electricity.”

Martin said local and regional contractors will be hired, and construction will be done by union labor.

“It’s practical to do that. You have firms in the area that do excellent work. It’s in the best interest of the community,” said Martin.

Siderewicz said the 26 new full-time, permanent jobs at the plant will be paid an average of $50 per hour.

“We’re not here to offer employment for more typical service jobs. This is something that requires skill capability dedication to make it work properly,” he said. “And on that front, we’re hoping to coordinate our efforts with the high school and have a learning center for energy, mathematics and science, and have people come from the school into the program to see how this works - to take natural gas out of the earth, put it through some mechanical device, and produce electricity, while not harming the environment. So we look forward to the day when the facility becomes a learning center and would enhance the learning process with these skills that are so important in today’s society to advance ourselves in terms of technology.”

Siderewicz said the facility would last well into the future.

“This kind of asset lasts over 40 years. That’s $109 million in taxes back to the schools, city and county. This over the long run will be a very positive economic boost for the community,” said Siderewicz.

Dr. Lonny Rivera, superintendent of the Oregon City Schools District, said at the meeting he was pleased by the funds the district will receive as a result of the project.

In our day and age of school funding, with the uncertainties that we have, this is something that we’re looking forward to. It’s much needed. It helps us in quite a big way,” said Rivera. “Beyond the monies,” he added, “the educational experience our kids will get is going to really come out. It’s an incredible idea.”

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By: Kelly Kaczala

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