Spokane Journal of Business

Local companies likely to get turbine plant work

Cogentrix intends to serve as own general contractor

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Cogentrix Energy Inc., a Charlotte, N.C.-based power producer, will serve as its own general contractor on construction of a $100 million power plant it is developing in Rathdrum, Idaho, with Avista Power Inc., of Spokane. The company will strive to hire local subcontractors, says Kurt Humphrey, Cogentrixs Portland-based vice president for development.

Cogentrix will seek to involve companies from the immediate area for site work, as well as all other phases of construction, he says. In past projects, Cogentrix has found that local companies are the most competitive bidders and usually receive a significant amount of the work, Humphrey says.

While engineering work, purchase of the generating components, and construction of the surrounding facility is expected to cost a total of at least $100 million, financing and development costs will boost the overall cost of the project to an estimated $150 million, he says.

Cogentrix has completed a site plan and some design work for the plant, Humphrey says. An engineering firm will be selected to create detailed plans.

Those detailed plans must be submitted to various regulatory agencies to obtain permits and approval, he says. The agencies that will review the plans include the city of Rathdrum, Kootenai County, the Panhandle Health District, the Idaho Division of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

For example, the FAA must approve the height of the plants stack, and the health district will review plans for on-site chemical storage, Humphrey says. Approvals also will be needed for building and operation permits, and stormwater-management plans. Cogentrix already has zoning approval for the site and an air emissions permit from the state of Idaho for the plant.

Cogentrix now is working out operation and maintenance agreements with its development partner, Avista Power, a subsidiary of Spokane-based Avista Utilities Inc., and a scoping agreement that will fully describe the proposed plant for both partners, he says. These agreements will complement the December pacts Cogentrix inked with Avista Power to build jointly or buy gas-fired power plants in the Pacific Northwest and with Avistas sister company, Avista Energy Inc., to provide fuel for and sell the electricity produced at Rathdrum, Cogentrixs first collaborative project with Avista Power.

Those are the agreements we need to take to the bank to get financing, Humphrey says.

He expects the necessary agreements to be in place by the end of February, and then hopes to be able to close on financing by mid-summer.

Cogentrix already is negotiating with vendors of electricity-generating equipment for the major components of the power plant, Humphrey says. Then, Cogentrix will put together bid packages for work at the proposed plant site. The company hopes to begin construction during the 1999 building season.

Separately, as part of the December agreement between Cogentrix and Avista Power regarding a goal of developing power plants jointly elsewhere in the Northwest, Cogentrix is actively looking at several West Side (Washington) sites and hopes to locate another plant this year, Humphrey says.

  • Anita Burke

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