Public utility consortium Energy Northwest and private energy company Adage have signed a preliminary agreement to develop biomass power plants in four states.
The agreement signed Wednesday calls for developing plants that would convert wood waste from the timber industry into electricity and could be operating as early as 2012
Each plant would generate about 50 megawatts of electricity, or enough to supply 40,000 households in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. The plan is to build at least one biomass power plant in each state, the companies said.
The electricity would be delivered by Energy Northwest to the consortium’s 24 member utilities, as well as other regional utilities.
“Our entry into the wood biopower field is a natural extension of Energy Northwest’s long history of environmentally responsible power generation using hydro, wind, solar and nuclear technologies,” said Vic Parrish, chief executive officer of Richland-based Energy Northwest.
Adage President Reed Wills told a news conference Wednesday that the power plants would create 500 new jobs. Adage is a joint venture between Duke Energy and France’s Areva Inc.
In Washington, the biomass plants would likely be located in forested areas of Western Washington.
The idea is to locate the plants near timber operations, such as sawmills, to use bark or tree branches stripped from lumber that typically are discarded or burned, said Jacques Besnainou, president of Areva.
Since the plants are near forests, Besnainou said any carbon emitted would be absorbed by the trees, making the process fairly carbon-neutral.
Parrish said the cost of power generated from wood waste would be competitive with other renewable sources such as wind and solar.
Gov. Chris Gregoire told the Tri-City Herald in Richland that the planned operation fits the state’s environmental and clean energy goals.
“I have said, let us not duplicate what the corn belt did – raising feed stock (for fuels) and competing with food sources,” Gregoire said. “I have said, ‘Let’s look to waste.’ So they are right where we are.”
The Associated Press – http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/northwest/story/632051.html