U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer.

Port of Port Angeles inquires about funding

Congressman answers questions, pledges to help grant process

PORT ANGELES — The Port of Port Angeles is seeking advice from Congressman Derek Kilmer with regard to accessing infrastructure funding.

One of the requests made during a meeting Tuesday was to nudge along a grant process for the port, funds that would benefit the development of the Marine Trade Center (MTC).

The port was awarded an $8.6 million grant from the Economic Development Association to aid in the development of the infrastructure for the MTC, but it has not seen a disbursement of those funds.

“We have done the things they have asked us to do in terms of archaeological studies and additional engineering, but we still haven’t received any notification from them that they are moving forward,” Port Commissioner Colleen McAleer said.

Chris Hartman, director of engineering for the port, said he last heard the EDA was waiting on information from the National Fisheries Service regarding the port’s environmental assessment for the project.

Kilmer, a Gig Harbor Democrat who represents the state’s 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula, said he and his staff will help move the process along in ways that they can.

“The short answer is yes,” Kilmer told the three port commissioners Tuesday. “We are happy to engage with EDA or other agencies if they feel other agencies are involved.”

The MTC is a $7.5 million project that would be constructed on 18 acres of Marine Shore Drive in Port Angeles, with the first building projected to be 30,000 to 35,000 square feet, large enough to allow for the repair of large vessels. The space would be unique to the peninsula as it would allow for anyone to use the workspace, rather than be a private entity.

Commissioners also asked Kilmer for recommendations on types of grants to apply for that would support the continued development of the MTC. Those funds could come out of the recently passed $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill, of which the state will receive about $8.6 billion.

“One of the pieces of guidance we got from the administration when we were on a call with them a couple of weeks ago was, ‘Don’t be reluctant to apply for more than one (grant),” Kilmer said. “So that as the criteria comes out for these various grant programs: If you think that you have a potential investment that fits the bill for the priorities that they lay out, they said there is no sort of restriction on applying for more than one.”

Kilmer also noted there are also funds through the EDA thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act that the port should consider, in addition to some funding through the federal Department of Agriculture.

Kilmer talked about several pots of funding in the infrastructure bill that could be useful for ports across the peninsula but also answered questions specific to the Port of Port Angeles.

Commissioner Steven Burke asked if there was any legislation that would require vessels to use port-provided electricity when available to offset the costs of port electrification, as well as address environmental challenges that can occur when a vessel uses its own power while anchored.

“We started the process several years ago about building the infrastructure for shore power, and there is a climate nexus I’m sure you’re aware of — by plugging into shore power, you’re not running your generators. It seems from a practical sense, unless there is some type of legislation that requires them (vessels) to plug into shore power if it’s available, they just don’t choose to do that. I am wondering if there is any movement, at the federal level, to require using shore power if it is available?” Burke asked.

Kilmer said there was not any current legislation that he was aware of, but it could be incorporated into future legislation processes.

“To my knowledge, I don’t know of any legislation in that regard,” Kilmer said. “By including port electrification as one of the eligible uses in these grants, I think there is an acknowledgment that that needs to be part of our future going forward.

“I completely agree with you that to reduce our carbon footprint and consider that climate nexus as well,” Kilmer said.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached by email at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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