The Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority is moving forward on a site in Malaga that could be the location of the world's very first fusion power plant. 

Helion Energy of Everett has signed an agreement to provide fusion power to Microsoft in the Chelan, Douglas, and Grant County areas. 

Port Authority Director of Economic Development and Capital Projects Stacy de Mestre says the investment could total $600 million and result in 100+ new jobs. 

“If they choose Chelan County as their generation facility, it would start out at 50 megawatts, and I think ramp up to 250 megawatts eventually,” said de Mestre. “But the other thing they would want to site close by is a capacitor manufacturing plant. And that’s where a lot of those jobs would come from.” 

The Port Authority has approved Helion Energy to conduct a feasibility study of the Malaga site. The agreement also has options for a long-term lease agreement for the site. 

"Essentially, it's us saying, 'Helion, you can use our property for a year to do your feasibility study, and if you wish to site your facility here, we will negotiate a long-term land lease with you,’" de Mestre said. 

The Malaga site is one of several locations in Washington where Helion is considering building the first fusion power plant. 

The idea sprang from a Clean Energy Expo hosted by Chelan PUD which Port staff and two commissioners attended. 

There are several moving parts in the process that are still uncertain. 

For one, the PUD is conducting its own study to determine how power from the fusion plant would be moved through the PUD grid. 

Also, Helion has been working on the fusion energy process for several years and is on its seventh prototype machine known as Polaris. 

The company is looking to show for the very first time that it can produce electricity from the fusion process with Polaris. 

The machine will go through its ultimate test this fall. 

Among the selling points Helion promotes with fusion energy is that it's totally clean. Fusion emits zero carbon and creates no long-term waste. 

The company also says fusion generation works regardless of external weather conditions, can produce energy day or night, and has zero risk of meltdown.   

In addition, the company says the Earth’s oceans contain enough fusion fuel (deuterium) to generate billions of years’ worth of zero-carbon energy. 

Helion Energy recently signed a contract to provide fusion power to the Mid-Columbia grid by 2028 for Microsoft to purchase. The Mid-Columbia grid is composed of the Chelan, Douglas, and Grant counties' PUDs. 

The Malaga site where Helion will conduct the feasibility study is the former GBI property near the under-construction Microsoft data center. It occupies just shy of 25 acres, which is adequate space for a Helion Energy plant. 

De Mestre says Helion will likely select a site by next year and quickly start building its power plant if it can ultimately produce electricity from fusion. 

LOOK: 50 Washington Innovations

Invention and innovation happen all over the world, all the time - but there's no denying that Washington State has contributed a distinct collection of ideas that have changed the world. Here's a look at over 100 years of innovations created in Washington, as chronicled in part by the Washington State Department of Commerce.

Gallery Credit: Jaime Skelton

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