Note: This article was written by the Lewis Economic Development Council and published in Saturday's edition of The Chronicle as part of a monthly supplement section focused on the EDC.
Thanks in large part to efforts by state Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, a new electrical substation and transmission delivery project has been funded to provide an economic boost to the Winlock area.
Abbarno helped usher in a $3.55 million capital budget project that will pay for the substation under the direction of the Lewis County PUD. Chris Roden, the Lewis County PUD manager, said the project will bring needed expansion of electrical utilities for the Winlock area as it is poised for significant residential and industrial growth.
“We will continue to see growth in the area,” Roden said.
Part of the growth comes from the Benaroya project. Located just adjacent to I-5, The Benaroya Company Winlock project is about six months away from completing the largest industrial building — 1.2 million square feet — in Washington state for 2021.
The Lowe’s project will be complete in the fourth quarter of this year. Cost of construction on the 74-acre project is more than $100 million. Another 250 acres are available for development at the Winlock site in the coming years, with various parcels available to accommodate buildings from 1.4 million square feet to 75,000 thousand square feet (for sale or lease).
Once a proposed electric substation is completed, the Benaroya site will attract hundreds, if not thousands of jobs to the county. Construction jobs alone on the Lowe’s project numbers about 400.
“This is great news for the Winlock area and the Benaroya project,” said Richard DeBolt, executive director of the Lewis Economic Development Council. “The substation will be poised to deliver needed electrical utility capacity as Winlock grows in the coming years.”
The substation and transmission lines project for Winlock started in the fall of 2020 when the Lewis County Commissioners passed a grant for initial studies by the PUD.
“That really helped kick us forward,” Roden said.
Now the PUD is undergoing land acquisition for the substation site, as well as pursuing needed permitting thanks to the $3.55 million in funding. Roden expects the project to finish the first phase of the project in about two years. Key is building flexibility into the design of the substation.
“We’re going to build flexibility for decades to come,” Roden said, explaining that the substation will be able to expand based on need in the coming decades.