Demolition that started in November continues on a 30-acre parcel that will eventually hold a $310 million liquefied natural gas facility on the Tacoma Tideflats.
The space along Alexander Avenue and East 11th Street previously held a more than 200,000-square-foot warehouse. That’s coming down to make way for the LNG facility, run by Puget Sound Energy. PSE is also preparing the site for heavier construction, which could begin by midyear 2017, said PSE spokesman Grant Ringel.
Toward the end of 2019, the plant should be ready to deliver LNG to fuel Tote Maritime’s Alaska-bound cargo ships, Ringel said.
And on the coldest of days, the plant’s 8-million-gallon storage tank will meet the increased demand from the utility’s residential and commercial natural gas customers.
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PSE also plans to sell the fuel to other industrial customers, which typically use dirtier fuel than LNG. Other customers have not yet been identified, Ringel said.
“The most likely customers would be transportation uses like ships, ferries, trucks and railroads,” Ringel said in a follow up email.
In August, the Northwest Seaport Alliance voted to approve an easement for LNG infrastructure across its property so the company could build a dock on the Blair Waterway for Tote’s ships. One condition of that easement forbids export of LNG, though the company can make regional deliveries via barge.
PSE officials have also said the LNG plant is not nearly large enough to be efficient at filling ships for export.
The project doesn’t sit well with some Tacomans, who have attended meetings with the Tacoma City Council, Port of Tacoma and a PSE open house in recent months to lodge their complaints about the facility. The port commission approved the property lease to PSE during a 2014 public meeting.
The PSE project already has obtained all major permits and is filing for routine construction permits as the project moves along, Ringel said.
Sarah Morken, a Tacoma resident, led nearly two dozen plant opponents on a rainy walk to a PSE field office on South 38th Street in Tacoma late Thursday.
As the group entered the glass-enclosed lobby, Tacoma resident Marilyn Kimmerling moved to the counter and offered a letter asking the company to pull out of the project.
The group then sang parodies of Christmas carols, their voices reverberating off of the glass while PSE employees in the next room peered over the tops of their cubicles at the commotion.
For those against the plant, there’s a sense of urgency, Morken said.
“We’ve just about exhausted the official channels” to defeat the plant, Morken said. “They’re starting to break ground.”