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Industry News

Canadian Firms Buy Unfinished Bonneville Power Plant

LCG, Aug. 7, 2000--Two Canadian firms in a joint venture have purchased an unfinished 249 megawatt natural gas-fired power plant from the Bonneville Power Administration for $25.1 million and expect to renew construction before winter.

"We have not pushed the button on construction yet, but it will happen this fall," said Harvie Campbell, general manager of Westcoast power Inc. of Vancouver, British Columbia, which with Epcor Power Development Corp. of Edmonton, Alberta, bought the project from the U.S. federal power agency.

The facility is located in Frederickson, Wash., southeast of Tacoma. It will be completed in combined-cycle configuration and supply power directly to users on bilateral contracts as well as sell power in the wholesale power exchanges.

The joint venture, which calls itself Frederickson Power, said it will cost another $160 million to finish the plant, which has lain dormant since Bonneville acquired it from Tenaska Power Partners of Omaha, Neb., by accident.

Tenaska acquired the 16-acre Frederickson site from the Port of Tacoma in 1994 for $2.2 million and arranged a long-term agreement with Bonneville for the plants output. Less than a year after construction began, Bonneville tried to weasel out of the power purchase contract and wound up owning the unfinished plant after paying Tensaka and its banks $340 million in damages.

Subtracting the $25.1 million its getting for the facility, the taxpayer-owned utility is out $314.9 million without taking inflation into account. It is the worst financial bath Bonneville has taken since the mid-1970s when the Arab oil embargo scared it into an investment in the Washington Public Power Supply System nuclear power plant project.

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