WENATCHEE — What do dams, cherries and diamonds have in common?
It took representatives from all three to sign an agreement Thursday to provide the Diamond Foundry with 19 megawatts of power. The Chelan County PUD and Stemilt Growers signed the agreement with the California-based company.
The foundry is leasing space in one of Stemilt’s warehouses on Hawley Street to produce the diamonds. Stemilt agreed to build a substation to provide the 19 megawatts as part of the deal.
It was the accumulation of a lot of effort by both Stemilt and the PUD to use a warehouse that was damaged after the Sleepy Hollow Fire, said West Mathison, Stemilt Growers president.
It also helped replace economic opportunity in Chelan County that was lost when Alcoa Wenatchee Works closed, said Steve Wright, PUD general manager.
“After the Sleepy Hollow Fire and we had cleaned up the site after the fire,” Mathison said. “We essentially had the shell of a partially burned out building that was located next to some great distribution that really facilitated the conversation to move quicker.”
The Diamond Foundry is already up and running in a limited capacity, said Kyle Gazay, Diamond Foundry president of production. The company makes diamonds using a high-heat plasma laser.
When the substation is built and delivering the 19 megawatts of power, the company should be producing close to a million carats of diamonds a year, he said. It will also provide 35 to 50 new jobs to the local community.
The company will be the PUD’s largest retail load by a factor of four, Wright said. The second largest load on its system is Stemilt, which uses 5 megawatts of power.
Alcoa used 260 megawatts of power, he said.
The Diamond Foundry chose Chelan County for its ability to provide clean energy, Gazay said. The company highlights its carbon-neutral certified diamonds.
“We’re seeing huge expansion in the gemstone market,” Gazay said. “But we’re also excited about power electronics, its use in satellites, 5G communication so it is just the start for diamonds.”