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Pend Oreille PUD Terminates Agreement With Smelter Company

The Pend Oreille County Public Utility District has halted an agreement with a Canadian company that proposes to build a silicon smelter near Newport.

The PUD recently sent a letter to PacWest Silicon, saying it has terminated what is called a "cost reimbursement agreement." The letter also contained a $315,000 check.

The agreement required the PUD to design a system to get the needed amount of electricity to the property Pac West had purchased and where it intends to build the smelter.

The PUD said it has been more than six months since it has had any communication with the company, so it returned part of that money the company paid.

Spokane Public Radio contacted the PUD for clarification, but was told they will “not be making any further statement at this time with respect to the PacWest letter.”

Attorney Rick Eichstaedt, who represents opponents of the proposed smelter, questions why the PUD was not more forthcoming when asked by a reporter to explain the letter.

“It doesn’t seem like an appropriate response, since, as a public utility district, they are a public agency. They should explain to the public their actions like any other government agency needs to,” Eichstaedt said.

Rick Eichstaedt says it appears the plans for the smelter are in trouble.

“The company has not been in communication with the Department of Ecology, has not been in communication with the Public Utility District. the governor questions whether the project is moving forward. The county commissioners rejected their comprehensive plan amendment. This really seems like a project that is headed nowhere,” he said.

In the closing of the letter, the PUD says it welcomes PacWest in any future request to be a customer of the district when it is ready to proceed.

Our call to PacWest Silicon for comment was not returned.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.