Work on the Red Rock substation is moving forward, 14 years after the Port of Royal Slope first sold more than an acre of land to the Grant County PUD with the understanding that a new substation would eventually be built to support the local electrical grid.
Utility district officials approved a resolution last month to pay for the transmission lines to that substation, action that was spurred by an apple producer that wanted to build a facility near the port.
Much of the 14-year delay was due to the fact that PUD has been inundated with service requests by power-hungry cryptocurrency data centers, as well as a handful of particularly resource-intensive projects related to dam maintenance, Potter said.
But it was when an apple producer expressed interest in bringing 400 jobs to the area and started planning out their electricity needs that the port realized how urgently the substation was needed.
“This is how we became more aware of the fact that we didn’t have enough power here for the apple producer,” said Cathy Potter, executive director of the Port of Royal Slope.
Utility district commissioners have given a tentative timeline of two to three years before the substation will be online and ready to support the port’s electrical grid, though a final construction timeline still has not been hammered out.
The utility district is working with port officials and any potential customers to work out an agreement about specific power-requirements, said Chuck Allen, public affairs officer for the utility district.
Once those agreements are finalized, the PUD will begin planning and design of the substation. The substation is tentatively expected to be operational two to three years after plans are finalized.
In a statement published last month, District 2 Port Commissioner Alan Schrom expressed gratitude that the port’s needs were on the utility district’s radar “given all of the bigger issues they face every day.”