Recently, the Tacoma News Tribune published this op-ed by Puget Sound Energy's Andy Wappler about our Tacoma LNG facility. It helps clear up some confusion regarding misinformation that has been circulating.
BY ANDY WAPPLER
Construction is underway on a $300 million facility at the Port of Tacoma that will provide a cleaner fuel for ships as well as much-needed additional natural gas for customers in the growing Tacoma area on the coldest nights of the year.
Much conflicting information is circulating about the project, so here is a brief review of why LNG is better for our community than sitting on our hands and doing nothing.
It's safer: LNG is simply the same natural gas we use in our homes and businesses, only refrigerated to minus-260 degrees Fahrenheit, where it turns into a liquid.
Some on social media and elsewhere claim we risk explosions and dangerous chain reactions. That's simply false. LNG is not explosive or even flammable in its liquid state. When warmed, it's the same fuel we all use in our stoves and furnaces, and requires the same safety precautions.
The storage tank holding the LNG is not pressurized. It is designed to withstand a once-in-every-2,450-year earthquake (compared to our highway bridges, which are designed to a 1,000-year-earthquake standard).
It's cleaner: By switching from diesel to LNG, maritime vessels at the Port will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions into Tacoma's air by more than 30 percent and dangerous particulate (smoke) emissions by more than 90 percent.
Switching to LNG will also greatly minimize the potential for harm to the waters of Commencement Bay and Puget Sound. Natural gas (methane) is non-toxic. In the unlikely event of a spill, it evaporates completely – unlike oil.
Social media posts shout about the 39.6 tons of air pollutants the plant will emit every year. What they don't talk about are the 160,000 tons of toxic air pollutants the LNG plant will eliminate compared to the fuels used today.
It has a positive economic impact: The Tacoma LNG facility will provide significant economic benefits to Tacoma's economy, residents and businesses. The LNG facility will create about 250 construction jobs (many already working at the site) and 18 permanent jobs.
The project also helps local employers like TOTE remain competitive and maintain hundreds of family-wage jobs at the Port and elsewhere in the community. This is particularly important as other West Coast ports, such as Vancouver and Los Angeles, are already transitioning to LNG.
It saves customers money: Pierce County and the region are growing, and the LNG facility will provide reliable, cost-effective natural gas to our customers on the coldest days of the year.
The LNG facility will save PSE natural gas customers between $50 million and $100 million over 10 years compared to the cost of increasing pipeline capacity into the region. Utility customers will pay for only the benefit they receive from the LNG facility. Shippers will pay their fair share for the benefits they get from making the switch to a much cleaner fuel.
It has thorough oversight: A project like this is complex, and there are nearly 20 local, state and federal agencies that have or will issue permits as the project progresses.
Demolition of the old buildings on the site is complete, as are ground improvements that will stabilize the land to support the facility and withstand a massive earthquake.
The project is being permitted in phases, and permitting is in order before a phase of constructions begins.
It's local: The LNG produced in Tacoma will not be exported. The facility will serve local PSE customers only, including homes, businesses and as a transportation fuel for ships running out of the Port.
It's a step forward: Some people believe there should be no additional investment in any fossil fuel infrastructure. This is really a different debate that should be evaluated on its own merits, in the context of what's realistically possible today.
Converting local maritime users to LNG is a positive step we can take now, one that reduces greenhouse gasses and particulates while at the same time saving families and employers money.
Andy Wappler is vice president of customer operations and communications for Puget Sound Energy.
We're holding a series of public forums about Puget Sound Energy's Tacoma Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project. To make these as accessible as possible, we have three different opportunities to learn more and have your questions answered.
Thursday, November 17, 7 to 8 p.m.
PSE will host an LNG online forum from 7 to 8 pm. You will first view a short live presentation regarding LNG and the project; after that you can ask questions of project and LNG experts.
To participate online*/via phone:
At 7 pm on November 17, click on this link to open the WebEx screen
Access code: 623 306 802
* Audio over the computer is limited to 500 users. You can still join us by calling in by phone while using the link to view the presentation and ask questions.
Monday, November 21, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Greater Tacoma Convention Center
1500 Broadway, Tacoma
PSE will host an open house for the LNG project from 7 to 8:30 pm, at the Tacoma Convention Center. The open house includes various stations where you can learn more about LNG as a fuel and the specifics on the Tacoma LNG project. Experts on LNG properties, safety, environmental benefits and use will be available to answer questions one-on-one.
Learn about the Tacoma LNG project including the project timeline, permitting process, jobs outlook and safety testing. Experts from PSE, TOTE Maritime, Port of Tacoma, City of Tacoma and other permitting agencies will be available for information and questions. Refreshments will be provided.
Telephone Town Hall
Thursday, December 1, 7 to 8 p.m.
PSE will host a LNG telephone town hall from 7 to 8 pm. This will be a Q & A session with LNG and project experts available to answer your questions.
Email us at email@example.com with the phone number you want us to call, before Nov. 30. Then mark your calendar for 7 pm on December 1 and we will call you and connect you directly into the Telephone Town Hall.
View the outreach opportunities invitation.
We have received requests to release the LNG Siting Report publicly. While we are unable to release the report to the general public due to its CEII content, we have developed a process to provide access to the report to those who specifically request it.
Since the events of 9/11, federal procedures and rules limit public access to certain energy infrastructure information. The intent is to safeguard the information, called Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII), from falling into the wrong hands. PSE’s LNG Siting Report includes CEII information that has not been shared publicly to remain compliant with these federal regulations.
PSE's process for requesting access to the report is similar to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s CEII release process, and requires completing two forms and submitting them to PSE for review. Below are links to the forms.
Please print and complete forms (see links above) and mail to:
LNG Project Team
Puget Sound Energy
P.O. Box 97034 EST-11W
Bellevue, WA 98009-9734
You may also email the completed forms to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once PSE receives your completed forms, you will receive a confirmation email with additional instructions for viewing the materials.