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Second amendment filed for Cob Energy Facility

Published Oct 26, 2003

By BROOK REINHARD, Herald and News

The backers of the Cob Energy Facility near Bonanza have submitted a second amendment to their proposal.

The amendment provides new methods for dealing with stormwater and the plant's "process water" and details what a half-size 580-megawatt power plant would look like if the power market isn't robust enough for the full plant to be built immediately.

Cob Project Manager Rob Trotta said the most recent change is a direct response to concerns voiced by local water users and the state of Oregon.

"I've approached this project and tried to make it work," he said. "That's why I filed the second amendment."

Trotta announced earlier in the year that the power plant would be air cooled instead of water cooled, a decision he said was made by listening to people who would be affected by the plant and to public officials such as Klamath County Commissioner Al Switzer.

Diana Giordano, treasurer of the anti-Cob group Save Our Rural Oregon, said in spite of any concessions Trotta might have made in the most recent amendment, the group remains opposed to siting an industrial facility in a rural farm community.

"No, I don't want the power plant out here in the valley at all, half or full," she said.

Trotta calls the changes with stormwater a "day in the life of a raindrop." Under the new plan, any rainwater that comes into contact with plant facilities like turbines or on-site chemicals would flow into a separate drain for treatment. The water would then go into a 4.7 acre infiltration basin and then leach out to the groundwater supply.

The process water, or water used in the operation of the power plant, will be used to irrigate 31 acres of pastureland next to the facility. Trotta said both these changes were made because of concerns raised by Langell Valley Irrigation District, which said it did not want water from the power plant flowing into its irrigation or drainage ditches.

District manager John Nichols said the changes seemed like a good solution, but emphasized that stating something on paper doesn't guarantee the facility would be built that way.

"It's a good answer to our concerns," Nichols said, "if that's truly what they're going to do. That's all fine and dandy to write that stuff down, but to actually put it into practice is another thing."

Nichols said he also hopes Trotta will sign a legal document that promises to keep Cob's water out of the district's ditches.

The amendment was praised by Trey Senn, executive director of the Klamath County Economic Development Association.

"I think this makes it a slightly better project," he said. "There were some concerns about runoff. I think you'll find that KCEDA is still fully backing the effort."

Senn said construction of the plant will be a considerable economic asset, even if market conditions force Trotta to build a half-size facility.

Department of Energy analyst Cathy Van Horn said the department asked Trotta to include plans for a power plant built in phases because state rules require a facility to be completed within five years of site approval.

The department has not had a chance to look over the complete amendment yet, so Horn said she had no comment on the change.

The siting decision will be made by the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the estimated power output of the proposed Cob facility has been changed for the second time.

Originally, it was to be an 1150-megawatt plant. The change to air cooling knocked off 20 megawatts. Most recently, Trotta said, his engineers had figured out how to get 30 more megawatts out of the air-cooled design, bringing the estimate to 1160 megawatts.

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