Junction City electricity provider says OSH construction delays cost them $648,000

By Chris McKee, KMTR.com, Jan. 23, 2013

Eds. Note: The MHAP and most everyone associated with the mental health business – aside from those employed to build hospitals – oppose building a new psychiatric hospital / prison at Junction City.

As the new Oregon State Hospital remains under construction near Junction City, the area’s electricity provider is out several hundred thousand dollars in part due to delays on the project.

Blachly-Lane Electric Cooperative is out about $648,000 for 2013, mostly due to delays on the hospital project. The financial shortage has to do with the electrical cooperative’s pre-purchase of power from the Bonneville Power Administration in 2011.

Before 2011, Blachly-Lane was told by state officials that the new mental health hospital would be open in Junction City by 2013. That was the estimated opening date as early as 2007 when the project was first outlined by the state.

Adding to the power demand, Eugene-based Grain Millers Inc. was also expected to have a new Junction City-area facility open in 2013. Together, both of those facilities were expected to draw an additional eight megawatts of power, nearly doubling Blachly-Lane’s current load of twelve megawatts.

However, as it stands today, both the hospital and Grain Miller Inc.’s new facility have yet to be built.

Blachly-Lane is getting a partial refund on the pre-purchased power; however, it cannot get a full refund. In turn, the utility has had to make big cuts to its $12.2 million budget.

The utility is also asking the state for help, but so far it hasn’t had much luck.

“They’ve [hospital project liaisons] talked to their management team and tried to do their best to see what they can come up with, but they just don’t have the funds appropriated for that this year, so there is not much they can do,” said Joe Jarvis, General Manager of Blachly-Lane Electrical Cooperative.

“We’re just going to wait until they get a lot closer and it looks like it’s more of a concrete project and at that point we’ll work out some kind of contract so that this doesn’t happen again,” says Jarvis.

To make up the loss, Blachly-Lane has cut the equivalent of 1.5 full time employees, frozen all employee wages and cut almost all employee training and conference outings. It’s also switched employees to a new insurance plan.

The state is now saying that the Junction City mental health facility will be open by the end of 2014. Thus far, crews have done ground prep work on the site and improved the intersection of Mill Iron Road and Highway 99.