Investors in the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas terminal on Coos Bay's North Spit may know within 60 days whether they'll also build a natural-gas-fired power plant nearby, Jordan Cove's manager said Tuesday.

'It's independent of whether we go forward or not with the Jordan Cove project," said Bob Braddock, project manager and vice president with Jordan Cove Energy Project L.P.

Braddock said Fort Chicago, a Canadian energy company that's the principal investor in Jordan Cove, is negotiating to buy a power plant elsewhere in Oregon.

If that deal falls apart, Fort Chicago will proceed with plans for the Coos Bay power plant.

$60 million investment

Currently known as the South Dunes Power Project, the plant would have 50-megawatt generators powered by natural gas.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a 50-megawatt gas-fired plant can power about 20,000 homes under real-world conditions.

A new transmission line would bring the power north along U.S. Highway 101, then east at Hauser to join the Bonneville Power Administration's power grid.

The plant and transmission line would cost $60 million to $70 million to build. Braddock said.

Complements LNG plant

The plant wouldn't directly use gas from Jordan Cove or the associated Pacific Connector pipeline. Rather, it would use gas from Coos County's existing 12-inch pipeline.

But if the Jordan Cove facility is built, it would benefit the South Dunes plant because gas being shipped from Jordan Cove would keep the 12-inch pipeline full, Braddock said.

He said LNG shippers -- the customers of Jordan Cove -- probably would prefer to have their gas shipped via the county's 12-inch pipeline rather than the proposed 36-inch Pacific Connector. That's because transmission rates would be cheaper on the county's pipeline.

Currently, during the winter, demand for gas in other parts of the West sometimes means that the Coos County pipeline isn't filled to capacity. Under these conditions, the power plant would need tanks of propane or other fuel in reserve. A full pipeline would make that unnecessary.

Just as the LNG plant would benefit the power plant, the power plant would benefit the Jordan Cove facility.

Building a power plant would save Fort Chicago from having to build a small power plant at Jordan Cove. And the heat from the plant's exhaust gas could make steam for the Jordan Cove terminal to warm up the liquid gas as it arrived on tankers.

Benefits to area

A power plant on the North Spit would have some benefits for the local area, Braddock said.

For one thing, having a local power plant would make local electric service more reliable.

'The power grid going into Coos Bay is a single pathway that comes down the coast from the north and then heads back inland near Fairview," he said.

'When you lose a line in a storm, you lose a majority of power to the area. Having a local (generation) facility gives you some redundancy."

Coos County would gain revenue if the gas-powered plant were built, since the county charges a fee on gas that flows through the pipeline. A 50-megawatt plant would use about 10 million cubic feet of gas a day, Braddock said. Capacity of the county pipeline is 60 to 70 million cubic feet a day.

Very early days

If Fort Chicago doesn't buy the plant it's negotiating for, the first step for the South Dunes project would be for Fort Chicago to line up electricity customers.

Next, the company would have to buy the land. It currently has an option on a parcel next to the Roseburg Forest Products Chip Terminal.

Then it would have to secure permits for the plant -- an air contaminant discharge permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, a conditional land-use permit from the county, and an energy facility site certificate from the state.

If all went according to plan, the power plant could begin operating late in 2013, according to a presentation Braddock made in April to the NorthWest Public Power Association.

Reporter Gail Elber can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 234, or at gelber@theworldlink.com.

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.