Inslee praises renewable energy economy during Port of Vancouver visit

Governor tours terminal housing dozens of wind turbine blades

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Gov. Jay Inslee took a tour along towering wind turbine blades and cranes used to move them during a visit to the Port of Vancouver on June 15, commending the work to transport thousands of components for wind power as emblematic of the state’s commitment to a clean energy economy.

Inslee visited one of the port’s terminals where dozens of turbine blades sat after delivery to the port. Sixty-nine of the 123 ordered blades were stored at the port at the time of the visit, each 74 meters long.

The blades are manufactured by Denmark-based Vestas, which is headquartered in Portland and uses the Port of Vancouver for its shipping, according to the port. The turbine components are headed to a wind energy project near Wasco, Oregon.

Inslee toured the terminal with Port of Vancouver CEO Julianna Marler and International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 4 President Cager Clabaugh. The governor took time to speak with the crane operators who unload the blades off of ships arriving at the port, machines with a lift capacity of 140 metric tons, according to information from the port.

Wind energy components were a boon to the port’s operations during the pandemic, leading to a record-breaking year with revenues totaling $50 million, according to the port. Components for close to 3,000 wind turbines came through the port in 2020.

“I learned what clean energy means for Washington state. Clean energy means jobs,” Inslee said following the tour. 

Marler said a crew of 30 people for each shift was on the clock whenever a shipment of the components came in, leading to a record number of longshoreman hours last year.

Inslee commented on the crews of truck drivers, crane operators and port administration, saying they are “very skilled Washingtonians now being the heart, blood, soul and backbone of a clean energy economy that we’re building here in the state of Washington.”

“We need to continue to create new clean energy sources for our electrical grid. … These jobs are going to continue to grow,” Inslee said. 

He said during this year’s legislative session, state lawmakers passed the “best clean energy laws in the United States.”

On a related note to the state’s energy goals, Inslee commented on the decision to deny a key permit for the proposed methanol production facility in Kalama earlier this year, saying it was not his decision, but was made by the Washington State Department of Ecology. 

A few days prior to his visit, Northwest Innovation Works, the company behind the project, told the Port of Kalama they would be ending its lease, effectively putting a stop to the yearslong push to see the plant built.

“That was a decision based on facts, on science, not politics. That’s what we need to follow,” Inslee said. 

Initially a supporter of the project, Inslee changed course in 2019, saying the project wasn’t compatible with Washington’s climate goals.

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