By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A gas-fired power plant near Keizer Station could result from a partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.

And if the facility ever does get built, the city of Keizer likely won’t be a financial backer, the city manager said last week.

No deal has been struck yet with the Siletz, said both Tribal Council Chair Delores Pigsley and Chuck Sides, a co-owner of Keizer Energy LLC.

“We’re not at the commitment stage,” Pigsley said.

Sides said he plans to apply for permits with the Oregon Department of Energy sometime next month – a process that could take years, he said.

Sides said opportunities are there with the planned 2020 closing of the Boardman Coal Plant and ongoing need for more energy.

“Electric cars, all these things on the Internet are causing more need for electricity,” Sides said, adding tax credits aren’t as widely available as they once were for green energy sources like wind and solar.

In addition, he said, “to have a firm energy source – meaning constant – it creates a need for our type of plant. And like all development there’s a time period that makes sense to go ahead and take on this risk.”

The 12-acre tract in question is on Tepper Lane, east of the railroad tracks and west of Volcanoes Stadium, and is zoned industrial general.

Sides said the Siletz tribe “will have their choice of what roles they want to play” and other out-of-state partners could be involved.

Besides the basics like licensing and permits, a power purchase agreement is key to making the project work. Sides said some 11 utilities could be seeking proposals for energy within the next 18 months.

The Keizer City Council had asked city staff to look into the feasibility of financing some or all of the plant – which at the time could have cost as much as $400 million – but City Manager Chris Eppley said time frames and risk doomed the city’s involvement.

“There was a point where we were contemplating the value associated with being an actual partner in the project, turning into more or less a municipal utility, which would require us to issue bonds and finance it that way,” Eppley said.

“But after doing a fair amount of research we realized it’s more work than we have staff to be able to do, it’s a skill set that nobody on our current staff possesses simply because none of us have run an electric utility before, (and) we don’t have the money to hire the expertise to do that for us,” he added.

Hiring the necessary staff would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” and the potential risk caused concern.

“I believe the developers’ timeframe was much shorter than it was going to take us to do the analysis that would have led us to a comfort level to do that project,” he said.