Mid-Columbia Energy Initiative (MCEI) – Economic Development Focused on Energy

MCEI, a program of the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC), was formed in 2009 after the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced "footprint reductions" for DOE cleanup sites including Hanford and indicated a vision of turning some of the land into Energy Parks.

The Hanford Energy site is 586 square miles located along the Columbia River.  The site has served as a nuclear production complex and storage facility for more than 40 years and has been under decommissioning and environmental remediation since 1989. 

Following DOE's announcement, TRIDEC called a meeting of some 20 individuals representing local energy companies, PUDs, solar manufacturers, BPA, Energy Northwest and Mission Support Alliance (the DOE contractor for the Hanford Site's environmental cleanup mission). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss remedies for solving the nation’s energy challenges by utilizing the Hanford Site's local natural resources and by leveraging research and development expertise of the areas highly trained workforce. The enthusiastic group has continued to meet and in mid 2010 became a formal committee of TRIDEC identified as MCEI.

Now over 120 members strong, with more than 75 companies and 9 utilities as members, MCEI is working towards raising awareness that the Tri-Cities region is primed to become the nation's recognized leader in solving energy challenges.

MCEI is focused on economic development that capitalizes on local infrastructure, resources, and expertise in the energy sector, while retaining and recruiting businesses and jobs that promote solutions to current and future energy challenges across the world.

Benton PUD staff were involved with the planning and development of the MCEI group providing input and expertise from a utility prospective. Benton PUD employees continue to support TRIDEC and MCEI in the organization’s endeavors in promoting the Tri-Cities as the “energy capital of the Pacific Northwest”.

Recent activities of MCEI and partnering members include a formal request for the transfer of 1,641 acres to be identified for an “energy park” and work with DOE to replace the diesel fuel for the steam plant at the waste treatment plant which has the potential to reducing the carbon footprint by 40%, save $600 million over the lifetime of the plant and make the site more attractive for new industrial development.  

Tri-Cities energy numbers…

40% of Washington State’s energy is produced within 100 miles of the Tri-Cities including renewables

97% of the region’s utilities fuel mix is carbon neutral.

1,157 megawatts is produced by Columbia Generating Station, the only operating nuclear plant in Washington State and located in Tri-Cities.

100% of Washington’s wind power is produced within 100 miles of the Tri-Cities including Nine Canyon Wind farm located south of Kennewick.

73% of the power for the Tri-Cities area is from hydropower.

Click here to read more about MCEI