By Peter Chawaga
Thanks to a high-throughput production facility in Oregon, the technology manufacturer Intel is the area’s largest water consumer by far. Now, the state will help it pay for a massive water treatment project that will help it recycle some of that water.
Intel uses its Hillsboro, OR, factory to produce microchips, which requires large amounts of water to clean silicon wafers as residue accumulates on them throughout the production process.
“As Intel begins ramping up production at its massive new D1X factory in Hillsboro, the company is building a water recycling facility that could save nearly 1 billion gallons a year,” Oregon Live reported. “Intel used more than 2 billion gallons of water in each of the past four years, according to Hillsboro data, nearly a third of the city’s total water consumption in any given year.”
To build the $600 million water recycling facility — which could cut Intel’s water consumption by a third — the manufacturer requested $300 million in tax-exempt bonds from Oregon. Recently, a state board offered it half of that total.
“A state board approved $120 million in publicly issued bonds last week to help finance a $600 million water treatment project at Intel, and the state’s business development department plans to supplement that with $30 million from its own bonding authority,” according to a subsequent report from Oregon Live.
While the tax-exempt bonds don’t cost Oregon anything to and Intel will be responsible for repaying them, the state said it had to weigh other needs for the bonds when deciding how much to offer Intel.
“Officials with Business Oregon, the state’s economic development department, said they limited last week’s request while they assess a potential request for bonds to finance housing construction,” per Oregon Live.
The tax-exempt bonds, called industrial development bonds, allow Intel to pay interest rates that are as much as 25 percent below standard corporate bond interest rates. The company has argued that by offering this repayment model, Oregon is encouraging more environmental sustainability, economic development, and small businesses.
Oregon may offer more funding through these bonds once it determines the real need for housing bonds, among other financial considerations.
To read more about water recycling projects, visit Water Online’s Water Reuse Solutions Center.