Richland taking over Hanford 300 Area electrical service

Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldJuly 27, 2013 

The city of Richland is taking over electrical service in Hanford's 300 Area -- a process that should be complete by the end of the year.

It won't cost existing city customers any extra money, said Bob Hammond, director of Richland Energy Services, the city's power utility.

And, "it's really good from the economic development aspect because we're all trying to figure out how to leverage everything we have for economic diversification -- the day when we don't have $2 billion or around that coming in every year for Hanford site cleanup," Hammond said.

He also noted that having city electrical services in the area will make land there more easily redeveloped.

Many 300 Area buildings are being torn down as part of site cleanup. But four used by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will stay for at least another 13 years, and after 2015 the lab will be the primary 300 Area tenant, according to information provided by PNNL.

The transfer is expected to save PNNL and taxpayers $5 million to $10 million over the next 10 to 15 years, the information said. The lab now pays about $1.2 million a year for electrical services and related infrastructure provided by Department of Energy contractors, the information said.

The savings is a primary factor in the transfer, said Greg Koller, PNNL spokesman. He also noted that "it also allows Richland to be the single provider of all electrical services to PNNL," which is more efficient. The city already handles electrical services for PNNL's main campus.

Mission Support Alliance, Hanford's support services contractor, also will continue using some Area 300 buildings.

The transfer has been discussed for about two years. The lab is footing the bill -- of just less than $3 million -- for costs associated with the transfer, namely extending infrastructure such as cables, conduits, vaults and power poles.

Richland Mayor John Fox said he sees it as a positive move for the city in more ways than one, including that "it's not going to affect our present ratepayers -- either residential or industrial -- but it will strengthen the backbone overall of the electric utility."

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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