The company proposing to build a silicon smelter near Newport will pay $1 million for studies about the smelter’s effect on the electrical grid.
The $325 million smelter would use about 105 megwatts of electricity on a continuous basis, according to the Pend Oreille Public Utility District, which would supply the power. The utility district’s residential and small commercial customers use an average of 24 megawatts of electricity.
For large loads, the Bonneville Power Administration requires studies to determine potential impacts on neighboring utilities and the power grid. The studies will take about six months and will include engineering work needed for delivering electricity to the proposed smelter site south of Newport.
HiTest Sand Inc., the smelter’s parent company, has paid a $250,000 deposit to the utility district. A second $250,000 payment is due Feb. 1 and a third payment of $500,000 must be made before July 1, utility officials said.
The Pend Oreille County Public Utility District sold the company the 186-acre smelter site. If the smelter is built, HiTest would become the utility’s largest customer.
The smelter would create about 150 jobs in an economically depressed part of the state, but its proposed location near rural residences has been controversial. The Kalispel Tribe and others have raised concerns about air emissions from the smelter.