COOS BAY — If the Jordan Cove Energy Project comes, analysts predict a multimillion-dollar spending snowball descending on the county.
Chuck Deister, Jordan Cove’s labor liaison and state lobbyist, spoke at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon Wednesday at the Mill Casino-Hotel.
He said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected “any day now.” The draft EIS is a big step in the liquefied natural gas facility’s permitting process.
“We are looking more likely than we have over the last 10 years we’ve been at this of going into construction right about a year from now,” Deister said.
It’s estimated construction on the $7.5 billion project ($6 billion for the LNG terminal and $1.5 billion for the pipeline) would take until second quarter 2019.
During those four years, Coos County would feel a huge impact from the population and spending influx.
“It sounds like we could get squashed in all this if we’re not prepared,” a woman called out during the chamber luncheon. “Are we behind the curve preparing for this?”
The short answer, Deister said, is “no.”
“But we want you to start thinking now,” he said. “You won’t see the bulk of the workers until 2016 or 2017. You’re going to have some time to get used to it.”
At peak construction, there will be 2,100 people working on the LNG facility and another 1,400 working on the pipeline. Over the entire construction period, that’s an average of 930 working on the LNG facility and 837 working on the pipeline.
And each of those workers will make around $96,000 a year (nearly three times Coos County's median household income), which means huge spending potential in North Bend, Coos Bay and the surrounding county.
E.D. Hovee & Company, LLC, an economic and development consulting firm out of Vancouver, Wash., provides impact evaluations for natural gas, biofuel and wind projects throughout the Pacific Northwest. The firm analyzed Jordan Cove’s potential impact in a study last year (see the attached analysis).
Analysts used spending pattern data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Economic Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, and modeling data from IMPLAN.
For the county as a whole, they estimate a $142 million direct spending impact during those four years of construction. That includes $71 million in North Bend alone.
Throughout the county, analysts expect workers will spend tens of millions of dollars on gas, cars and car parts, dining, apparel and other retail, entertainment and recreation, health care and social assistance, and more (see the table below).
By the end of construction, that’s nearly $205 million spent in the county, including indirect spending.
About 32 percent of Jordan Cove’s work force will come from the South Coast, according to discussions with local labor unions, Deister said. The rest will be pulled from throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Once the facility is up and running, 150 people will have permanent jobs at the terminal and pipeline. Their average annual wage is expected to be $75,000 to $80,000, plus benefits.
Jordan Cove will also pay for 51 indirect jobs (sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, tugboat crews and emergency planners).
The biggest concerns at Wednesday’s chamber luncheon revolved around impact to the local housing market, U.S. Highway 101 traffic and dredging.
FERC requires Jordan Cove to provide housing so as not to disrupt the local housing market, which led to the company’s decision to build a workforce camp on the Al Peirce property under the McCullough Bridge. That proposal is currently under consideration.
The company also wants to add as little traffic to the highway as possible. The company will put a turning signal at the highway’s intersection with Trans-Pacific Highway to manage traffic flow, but they don’t want their workers driving to work every day.
“They will be on buses (from the workforce camp),” he said. “We’re also looking at water taxis and we’re looking at buying some passenger rail cars on the rail line.”
He also said dredging the channel for incoming LNG tankers is not required. Their drafts are shallow enough, he said, that additional dredging won’t be necessary.
Construction workers typically don’t bring their families to live with them, so there will be little to no impact on schools, he said.
“A good chunk of the labor force will show up with their own RVs or fifth wheels, as much as 25 percent,” he said. “The rest of the labor force leave their families in wherever they’re from — Eugene, Salem, Portland, Vancouver. We’re not anticipating a flood of kids that will need to be absorbed into the school districts.”