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CENTRALIA – The creation and use of alternative energy resources has been a state and local effort that is now gaining momentum. The State Legislature last year afforded $2.5 million toward the state’s first hydrogen fueling station at the Port of Chehalis Industrial Park off LaBree Road. It’s the interest of the local Energy Innovation Coalition, made up of the Economic Alliance of Lewis County, Twin Transit and others. “We want to find out what kind of energy needs we have in our communities and the kind of growth we may experience and the kind of businesses we can attract, and out of that came a nexus with hydrogen”, Economic Alliance of Lewis County Executive Director Richard DeBolt told the Centralia City council Tuesday night. DeBolt added that next month an announcement will be made on an estimated $600 million dollar investment in the community. “These are high skilled jobs”, says DeBolt. The news was greeted with optimistic appreciation by Centralia Mayor Kelly Smith-Johnston. The Mayor says, “I have felt for a long time that our economic development council was sub-optimized, and what you’ve done in the last year is build a true alliance. Everything from a $600 million investment in our community to the Fox Theater (renovations).” More details on the new energy resource industry are forthcoming, and Lewis County Commissioner Lindsey Pollock is cautious about new hydrogen production potentially “causing permit offsets, first of all carbon offsets limit timber harvests that can restrict our timber sales and also increase the cost of building homes.” The Economic Alliance plans a May 12th public announcement on the new multi-million dollar development, along with a June 15th Post-COVID Economic Summit.

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