Energy Briefs – December 2021

Ostrom Mushroom Farms receives $102K REA rebate

Ostrom Mushroom Farms received a $102,000 rebate from Benton Rural Electric Association for embracing energy-saving technology at its Sunnyside facility.

Ostrom installed LED lighting, water-cooled chiller equipment and variable frequency drives on air handlers, cooling tower fans, boiler fans and composting tunnel and bunker fans in 2019.

The new equipment is projected to save the company nearly 2.4 million kilowatt hours each year over the energy it would have consumed with less efficient equipment.

Ostrom is furthering work to reduce its carbon footprint by making compost from farm waste and recycling its wastewater and corrugated boxes.

Ostrom grows white and brown agaricus bisporus mushrooms, the common white cremini and portobello varieties, in a 237,000-square foot space, with room to double production.

In addition to the energy-efficiency rebate, Benton REA helped Ostrom secure a no-interest ownership credit loan through the cooperative and a 2% interest loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture during its 2019 construction.

As the USDA loan is paid back, Benton REA will place the funds into a revolving loan fund for other economic development projects in the area.

“Ostrom is taking full advantage of their co-op membership through Benton REA’s energy efficiency incentives and economic development programs,” said Shannon Olsen, assistant community development and member relations manager of Benton REA.

Business members of Benton REA interested in more information about the co-op’s energy-efficiency rebates and loans may call 509-786-8265 or email

Christensen grows with acquisition of Yorkston

Richland-based Christensen Inc. has acquired Yorkston Oil Co., a fuel and lubricant distributor and operator of the Commercial Fuel Network (CFN) sites serving customers in northwestern Washington.

Terms were not disclosed.

Yorkston is a third-generation, family-owned business. In addition to owning and operating the CFN sites, it distributes fuel to branded retail sites and delivered heating fuels, industrial and motor oils, marine fuels and on- and off-road fuels to independent and commercial accounts.

Christensen, also family owned, is one of the largest distributors of fuels, lubricants and propane on the West Coast.

Tony Christensen, president and CEO, said the acquisition supports its growth in renewable fuels and extends its geographical reach.

Earlier this year, Christensen acquired a 50,000-square-foot warehouse, rail and bulk storage tanks in Portland and a four-acre site in Seattle with a 50,000-quare-foot warehouse and close proximity to loading terminals.

The company employs more than 500 and serves more than 10,000 retail fuel, commercial and industrial customers.

CAC can help with energy, water bills

 Community Action Connections, or CAC, is promoting awareness of programs that help low-income households in Benton and Franklin counties with energy and water bills.

CAC is a private nonprofit social services agency providing a variety of services to low-income individuals and families.

The services and programs serve residents with incomes between 150% to 200% of the current federal poverty level guidelines.

The energy and water programs are federally funded. The heating program helps with energy bills, including electricity, natural gas, propane, heating oil, wood and the portion of rent that covers heat.

The water program serves households earning less than 150% of the poverty level that face having service disconnected over unpaid bills.

Go to: or call 509-545-4042 or 509-786-3378.

West Richland substation to be energized in December

Benton REA’s newest electric distribution substation is scheduled to come online the week of Dec. 20.

The eight-bay power distribution hub will receive 115 kilovolt electricity from Bonneville Power Administration transmission lines near Ruppert Road in West Richland.

It will transform the high-voltage electricity to 12.4 kV, making it ready to send through Benton REA’s distribution power lines.

Benton REA’s pole-mount transformers will then decrease the voltage to 120/240 kV to power homes and businesses.

One transformer was installed in 2021, but the substation has room to add another. The substation will take pressure off existing substations and increase reliability to Benton REA members in the West Richland area.

“The bulk of the work was done by local companies,” said Joel Mietzner, system engineer.

Become a certified Mount St. Helens volcano expert

The deadline is coming up to register for a popular Volcano Naturalist Program, now in its 10th year.

The mostly online training is offered by the Mount St. Helens Institute and the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Courses are held online from 6-9 p.m. Tuesday evenings, Feb. 1-May 3, and offer an in-depth look at the mountain’s eruptive history, the ecology of the blast zone, the cultural history of Mount St. Helens and more.

In all, the course includes 36 hours of instruction and three optional field trip sites around the mountain. The in-person visits will follow Covid-19 safety precautions.

Registration is $436 and closes on Jan. 10, 2022, or when the program is full.

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