As Hanford’s cleanup progresses, the Tri-Cities is again positioned to be a part of history by leading the nation’s transition to a net-zero economy.
This cleanup effort toward a clean energy future is decades in the making. And in 2015, Port of Benton, city of Richland and Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC), supported by local utilities, industry and other stakeholders, reaffirmed that economic development vision for repurposing Hanford land transferred back to the community.
As the Pacific Northwest’s clean energy hub, the Tri-City region has unlimited potential.
With our diverse power portfolio, including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear energy, the Tri-Cities is already leading the state in meeting carbon emission targets.
Today, 73% of Washington’s energy comes from clean power sources, and the Tri-Cities’ numbers are even more impressive at 91%, with nearly 89% carbon-free.
But our community and region need more clean baseload power to meet residential and industrial growth.
The Tri-Cities’ extensive energy expertise and workforce, available land for industrial and transportation infrastructure make this the place to innovate, manufacture and deploy next-generation clean energy technologies for domestic and global markets.
Port of Benton’s primary focus is on industrial development and economic diversification.
The importance of the environmental cleanup work at Hanford is hard to overstate. But diversifying our economy beyond Hanford is critical for our community’s future. Creating sustainable, good-paying careers will help us maintain and grow our nuclear- and energy-skilled workforce now and in the decades to come as Hanford transitions from cleanup.
The port receives regular Hanford briefings from Hanford Communities and Energy Communities Alliance. This insight helps us plan and engage with our regional economic development partners on ways to drive new energy missions, leverage assets and support the workforce.
Last year, Port of Benton established the Washington VERTical innovation cluster with a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce.
VERTical is a coalition of experts from industry, organizations and public agencies collaborating to accelerate the deployment of next-generation nuclear and other advanced clean energy systems.
VERTical is one of nine clusters in Washington state implementing a proven international model to drive innovation, solve challenges that limit industry growth and pursue market opportunities.
VERTical project teams are working to facilitate next-generation reactor projects, grow the advanced clean energy market, ready the nuclear-skilled trades and professional workforce, attract capital for advanced nuclear, establish a nuclear quality management National Center of Excellence, link grant partners to leverage state and federal funds, and educate and advocate for nuclear energy.
A key VERTical project is the Clean Energy Supplier Alliance, established in 2022, to help deliver new nuclear energy facilities on time and within budget. Establishing a new domestic supply chain for these first-of-a-kind reactors which does not exist today. The Clean Energy Supplier Alliance will close this gap by engaging industry to implement advanced manufacturing technologies that deliver the promise of next-generation nuclear: safer, simpler, cheaper and faster to deploy.
Community surveys and recent statewide polling demonstrate strong support for our focus on new nuclear as part of an all-of-the-above clean energy strategy to advance state and national clean energy initiatives.
The Tri-Cities has a history of stepping up at a time of national need. The need is great, and the time is now.
Let’s lead the transition to a net-zero economy by innovating, manufacturing and deploying next-generation clean energy technologies for markets here and around the world.
Our new energy mission will help address the climate challenge, meet the looming demand for additional clean baseload power, create jobs, achieve greater energy security and strengthen the economy.
This is the place, and we are ready.
Diahann Howard is executive director of Port of Benton.
Daily and Monthly NewsSign up now!