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Funding nearly in hand for Port’s $7.3 million anaerobic digester project

If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.

The Port of Sunnyside put that old adage to work and the result is an additional $1 million for an anaerobic digester to expand its capacity to treat industrial wastewater.

Recently, the board of directors of Yakima County’s Supporting Investments in Economic Development, or SIED, recommended a second $1 million loan/grant package for the port.

That news comes after the federal Economic Development Association turned down the port’s $1 million funding request.

SIED then stepped up for the half grant/half loan package, which is subject to formal approval by Yakima County commissioners. It marks the second time in less than a year SIED has supported the digester project. In April 2013, SIED awarded the port a $1 million loan/grant package. It also was half loan, half grant.

“The Yakima County SIED board really stepped up to the plate, which helped to close the financing gap and complete the funding picture,” says Jed Crowther, the port’s property development and project manager. “We’re really grateful for their support of ag and industry in the Lower Valley.”

The digester carries a total price tag of $7.3 million. Of that total, the port has provided $3 million. Another $1 million loan/grant package was awarded by the Department of Commerce’s Community Economic Revitalization Board.

That leaves port officials with $1.3 million still to be secured to fully fund the project. But, the port has been targeted to receive a USDA loan through Benton REA. “All signals point to authorization,” Crowther said of the USDA loan.

He says the digester is scheduled to be up and running by this fall.

Without the digester, the port is nearly at capacity for handling industrial wastewater from its clients. With it, the port will double capacity to process wastewater through its sequencing batch reactor.

One client, Darigold, has pledged to create an additional 25 jobs and invest millions in improvements because of the digester. Just two months ago, the company received building permits for a $5.2 million project to expand its milk receiving bays.

Crowther explains that loans to construct the digester are on 10-year terms with low interest rates ranging from 0 to 3 percent. “The anaerobic project is factored equitably into wastewater processing rates,” he says.

He notes the port appreciates SIED and all of its funding partners for the digester. Crowther called it “…collaboration and teamwork that make a large capital investment possible.”

With digester funding in hand, Crowther says construction should start in the next couple of months.

“In April we’ll be starting work,” he says. “You’ll see a lot of dirt moving.”

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