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PGE fires project contractor near Boardman

BOARDMAN — Portland General Electric has fired the general contractor in charge of building the Carty Generating Station near Boardman and will assume control of the project's final construction.

Abeinsa, an affiliate of the Spanish multinational corporation Abengoa, was selected by PGE to build Carty in 2013. Abengoa is now in talks with creditors to try and avoid becoming the largest bankruptcy ever recorded in Spain.

PGE provided interim financing to pay for construction at Carty in the weeks leading up to Monday, Dec. 14, when Abeinsa began turning approximately 500 workers away from the site. On Friday, PGE declared Abeinsa in default of their agreement and removed them from the project.

The Carty Generating Station is a 440-megawatt, natural gas-fired power plant located on Tower Road in the shadow of the existing Boardman Coal Plant. PGE identified the need for Carty in 2009, and hoped to have the plant up and running by mid-2016.

Carty is already about 75 percent built, and PGE is now assembling a new construction management team to finish the job. Spokesman Steve Corson said some employees could get back to work as early as this week, though most will likely have to wait until after the holidays.

"I think many of the same contractors will be working at the plant again," Corson said.

Jim Piro, PGE president and CEO, said they have closely monitored progress at Carty, and all major components of the plant are either in place or in the process of being installed.

"Our responsibility to our customers and our investors requires us to step in now and assume control so construction can get back underway," Piro said.

PGE has started discussions with Liberty Mutual Surety and Zurich North America, which provided a performance bond of $145.6 million under the original construction agreement. Carty was originally estimated to cost up to $514 million. PGE says it will provide an update on costs and expected completion after work resumes.

"Our focus here is on getting the plant built and online for our customers," Corson said.

PGE serves roughly 840,000 customers in the Portland metro area south to Salem.