This webpage is dedicated to information surrounding the Ponderay Site & Allrise Project Updates
April 4, 2022: Bonneville Power Administration Authorizes Restart of Newsprint Mill
August 15, 2022: PUD Executes Power Contract with Cascade Digital Mining
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
Pend Oreille PUD has received many questions from customers about power supply to the former Ponderay Newsprint Company (“PNC”) site, and what that means for the community. The below FAQs aim to address some of those questions.
Question: Who owns the former Ponderay Newsprint site, and how did they acquire it?
After PNC went into bankruptcy, the site was sold by the bankruptcy trustee through an auction process. The site was ultimately purchased by Allrise Capital Inc., which paid $18.1 million for the property. Allrise took title to the real property through a wholly owned subsidiary, Ponderay Real Estate, LLC.
Question: Is the PUD currently providing power to the site?
Yes, the PUD has continuously provided power to the site, both prior to and since Allrise acquired the property. Before Allrise purchased the site, the PUD had a court-approved agreement with the bankruptcy trustee so that maintenance power could be delivered and paid for. Since June 2021, Allrise has operated under an interim contract for maintenance power, and has maintained collateral and prepaid for power to ensure the PUD’s ratepayers are not harmed. The PUD and Allrise have been negotiating a longer-term contract (expected to run through late 2024) for 100 megawatts (“MW”) of cryptomining load. Since the PUD was in load-resource balance before Allrise purchased the PNC site, the PUD does not have sufficient resources to meet this load, and therefore has also been negotiations with Allrise’s preferred wholesale power provider, Brookfield Renewable Trading and Marketing LP.
Question: Did the PUD or the Bonneville Power Administration (“BPA”) tell Allrise they couldn’t restart the paper mill?
No. Allrise submitted a load request to the PUD in June 2021 for its initial load request of 300 megawatts, which was to be a combination of newsprint and cryptomining load. The PUD submitted an interconnection study request to BPA on Allrise’s behalf. BPA began studies on the blended load, but before the studies were completed Allrise changed its load request to an initial 100 MW dedicated solely to cryptomining. BPA authorized this first 100 MW of cryptomining load in December 2021. BPA has since confirmed that, as an alternative to 100 MW of cryptomining load, Allrise could restart the newsprint mill immediately, in accordance with its historical operating parameters, without further studies or upgrades. The PUD has communicated this option to Allrise.
The PUD has submitted a second interconnection study request to BPA on Allrise’s behalf, and at Allrise’s request. This request is to study the feasibility of up to 600 MW of cryptomining load at the former PNC site. Depending on the results of the feasibility analysis, additional studies will likely be required to determine the impacts of such load, and what additional BPA facilities would be required to accommodate Allrise’s request.
Question: Will hydropower from Box Canyon Dam be used to serve Allrise’s load?
No, Allrise has not asked for any of its power to be sourced locally or from carbon-free resources. PNC historically paid for and received nearly all power generated from Box Canyon Dam, with the PUD’s general service ratepayers being served primarily with power assigned to the PUD from the City of Seattle (Boundary power) and from the BPA. Before filing bankruptcy, PNC insisted that the PUD remarket its Box Canyon power and source power from the market to serve PNC. The PUD did this initially through a transaction with Portland General Electric in 2019-2020, and later with Shell Energy North America starting in 2021. The PUD’s contract with Shell Energy runs through 2025, and the PUD is currently exploring options for a successor transaction to maximize the value of the PUD’s clean, hydroelectric resources and recover the full cost of Box Canyon power. Allrise has not indicated a willingness or interest in making a long-term commitment to cover Box Canyon costs or pay for the carbon-free attributes of hydropower.
Question: Will Allrise’s load cause an increase in my electric bill?
No. The PUD has stated from day one that the PUD’s general service ratepayers – that is, all ratepayers except Allrise – will not be harmed in any way be Allrise’s entrance into, or eventual departure from, our community. From a rates perspective, that means that Allrise will be responsible to pay for all power it consumes, and post collateral sufficient to protect the PUD’s ratepayers in the event of a default. It also means that all costs and risks incurred by the PUD because of Allrise’s load will be 100% borne by Allrise.