Real Estate & Construction Briefs – September 2020

Wind farm plan adds solar, battery energy storage

Scout Clean Energy recently announced plans to add solar and battery storage components to a proposed wind farm it plans to build just south of the Tri-Cities in Benton County.

The 600-megawatt wind farm south of Kennewick will combine wind energy, solar energy and battery energy storage in the same location, making more renewable energy available to customers during lower wind periods, and for short durations when the sun is not shining, and the wind is not blowing, according to the company.

Project development began in late 2016 with leasing, land acquisition and environmental surveys conducted by both Scout Clean Energy and Wpd, a Portland, Oregon-based wind energy developer that holds lease agreements in the Jump Off Joe area.

Scout recently acquired additional wind farm assets from Wpd which will enable the company to scale up to 850 megawatts of combined wind, solar and battery power. Scout and Wpd will continue to cooperate in the development of the Horse Heaven project.

The companies will seek project permits in phases:

Phase 1: up to 350 megawatts, anticipated to begin operations in 2022

Phase 2: up to 500 megawatts, anticipated to begin operations by 2024.

The relative wind-solar-battery storage ratios may change depending on the preferences of an eventual purchaser of a power from the Horse Heaven energy facility. For example, additional solar-battery storage could be constructed with correspondingly fewer wind turbines.

Regardless of the final configuration, Federal Aviation Administration & Department of Defense agreements will limit the project design to a maximum of 235 wind turbines.

Journal of Business, Senior Times office moves

The Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business and Senior Times office has moved, though it remains closed to the public during the pandemic.

The Kennewick office moved Sept. 1 from its longtime 8919 W. Grandridge Blvd. location less than a half mile to a space on Pittsburgh Street.

Readers can pay for and renew subscriptions online at tcjournal.biz. Advertisers can pay invoices online at tcjournal.biz by going to “About” in the menu and then “Pay invoice.”

The newspapers’ new mailing address is: 8524 W. Gage Blvd., #A1-300, Kennewick, WA 99336.

The office email and phone numbers remain the same: info@tcjournal.biz, 509-737-8778. 

AgriNorthwest replacing potato sheds

AgriNorthwest, a Kennewick-based agricultural producer, is replacing a pair of potato sheds in rural Benton County.

Contractor Teton West is building two sheds with a combined capacity of 28,000 tons at 32198 Highway 14 in the Horse Heaven Hills.

The new sheds have a construction value of nearly $5 million. Each has two bays that hold 7,000 tons each.

Clore Center closes tasting room, focuses on campus rentals

The Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center in Prosser temporarily closed its tasting room because of the impacts of Covid-19.

Throughout the pandemic, the Clore center said its business model has continued to evolve. The closure began Aug. 30 and a focus has been placed on event and Clore campus rentals, with protocols in place to follow Covid-19 safety guidelines.

For more information about the rental space, call 509-786-1000 or email deb@theclorecenter.org.

Parade of Homes showcases homes online with 3D tours

The 2020 virtual Parade of Homes runs through Sept. 20.

This year’s event, organized by Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities, presents eight homes featuring the latest in construction, architectural trends, design and decor in the Tri-City area.

A 3D tour and photo gallery are available for each home.

Most of the 2020 parade homes also will be available to physically tour by special appointment. No tickets will be required, but in-person tours will be limited in number and appointments filled on first-come, first-served basis.

All current Covid-19 protection rules and restrictions must be followed while visiting the homes. Individual builders also may have additional safety requirements in place.

The Chefs on Parade event typically held in tandem with the Parade of Homes has been canceled.

For more information, go to tricityparadeofhomes.com.

HBA cancels annual Fall Home Show

The Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities has canceled its annual Fall Home Show.

The cancellation stems from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to HBA.

Exhibitors who registered for the early October show will receive refunds or may choose to roll payments over to the 2021 Regional Home & Garden Show. Last year’s event was held in February.

The HBA also canceled its Chefs on Parade event held in conjunction with its fall Parade of Homes event, which has moved to an online format.

Tri-City rental assistance available until funds run out

Help is available to Tri-City renters who are unable to pay rent because of Covid-19 job losses

The Tri-Cities Home Consortium received $700,000 in Federal HOME funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and is accepting applications now.

The consortium consists of the cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland in partnership with the Benton Franklin Community Action Committee.

The program runs through Dec. 31 or when funds are exhausted.

The money is available to help low-income individuals to maintain housing. Once approved, money is paid directly to the applicant’s landlord on their behalf.

Call 509-545-4042 or email info@bfac.org for information.

Visit hbfcac.org/home-base/housing-services for more information about housing services.

Oregon, Washington agree to honor electrician licenses

Electricians will have an easier time working across the Oregon-Washington border after the two states agreed to allow general, journey-level professionals who have a license in one state to work in the other.

The reciprocity agreement means qualified electricians can fill out a form, provide documentation and pay a fee rather than take an exam to qualify to work in the other state.

The agreement took effect Aug. 17 and was inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic, which demands more flexibility.

Oregon and Washington share a 400-plus-mile border.

Construction adds jobs but contractors are pessimistic

The construction sector added 16,000 workers in August, but the national Association of General Contractors reports pessimism is increasing among contractors.

AGC said August’s gains were concentrated in housing. Separately, infrastructure and nonresidential building reported losing 11,000 jobs.

The new jobs data comes as association officials reported that a survey of more than 2000 contractors it released this week found growing pessimism about a return to normal levels of construction business amid a proliferation of project cancellations.

“Construction is becoming a tale of two sectors, as homebuilding and limited nonresidential niches thrive but most other private, as well as public, construction shrinks,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “These employment numbers are in line with our survey, which found a plurality of construction firms expect it will take more than six months before their volume of business matches year-ago levels.”

The AGC America-Auto Workdesk Workforce Survey, which was released Sept. 2, found 38% of respondents expect it will take more than six months for their firm’s volume of business to return to normal, relative to a year earlier.

The industry’s unemployment rate in August was 7.6%, with 762,000 former construction workers idled. That’s more than double the 3.6% unemployment rate reported a year earlier.

Association officials said that the commercial construction sector was likely to continue losing jobs without additional federal coronavirus relief measures. They urged Congress and the administration to pass a one-year extension to the current highway and transit law so state officials can properly plan for the next construction season. They also called for additional infrastructure funding, liability protections for contractors who are taking appropriate steps to protect workers from the coronavirus and other pro-growth measures.

“It is clear that the commercial construction industry will not begin to recover unless Washington can enact responsible new recovery measures,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Congress and the administration should take the opportunity to create needed new middle-class jobs, rebuild infrastructure and restore the economy.”

Hermiston lands grant for industrial park development

The city of Hermiston landed a $1.5 million grant from the federal government to extend water, sewer and roadways and help prepare the South Hermiston Industrial Park, or SHIP, for development.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration grant will help create 16 shovel-ready light industrial parcels in the federally approved Opportunity Zone. Eligible businesses can receive exemption from property taxes normally assessed on new buildings and equipment for up to five years.

The grant also will assist the city in developing two sites that could potentially house new warehouse operations. 

When complete, the project is anticipated to generate $70 million in private investment and add 250 jobs while diversifying the regional economy. The $1.5 million grant will cover half of the total cost.

“This investment from the EDA allows us put some focus on supporting smaller light-industrial operations who need only 1 to 5 acres in the South Hermiston Industrial Park,” said Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan. “These smaller operations help deepen our available supply of regional contractors and service providers for the agricultural, energy and transportation sectors. I am very grateful for the foresight and assistance of our partners at the Port of Umatilla and Umatilla County, who saw the fundamental economic benefits of this project early on and committed to assist in covering the local match.”

The city received the grant, which is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act, through a competitive bid process based on the merit of the application, eligibility and fund availability. More information at eda.gov.

 

 

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