Power plants that would burn mostly wood waste fit into the Northwest’s energy portfolio because they would complement another emerging energy source, wind power, an Energy Northwest representative says.
The 50-megawatt, wood-burning power plants would generate electricity at maximum power about 90 percent of the time, said Jack Baker, vice president of Energy Northwest’s energy and business services. In comparison, Baker said wind turbines average about 30 percent of their rated capacity.
The plants would burn wood waste — fallen trees, stripped limbs left over by timber companies, beetle-killed wood, smaller trees cut down by logging companies but not hauled away and even some construction materials. The heat produced would then power a steam turbine, creating electricity.
Each plant should create enough power for about 40,000 homes. It would first be marketed to Energy Northwest’s utility members, which include the Benton and Franklin PUDs and the city of Richland.
Baker said it would be considered renewable energy. “It makes the forest a lot healthier and reduces fire hazards,” he said.
The power plants would be close to carbon-neutral, Baker said, because most of the carbon dioxide emissions would be absorbed by surrounding trees.
It would cost about $100 to $140 to produce a megawatt-hour of electricity, he said. Energy Northwest CEO Vic Parrish said that without tax incentives, wind power costs about $90 per megawatt-hour.
“It’s totally comparable to a wind resource,” he said Monday.
Energy Northwest has partnered with ADAGE, a joint venture between AREVA and Duke Energy, to build several biomass-burning plants in the Northwest.
Baker said the company is planning to build five, but that number may change, depending on economic conditions and fuel availability.
Baker said sites are being considered in Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
Once a location is found and permits are in hand, he hopes construction can begin in 2010 and the first plant online by late 2012 or early 2013.
Jani Gilbert, communications director for Eastern Washington with the state Department of Ecology, said a biomass-burning plant likely would need air and water quality permits, some of them before construction could begin.
The permitting process could last three to six months, she said, unless an EIS is needed, then it could take years.
Each plant would create about 400 construction jobs and about 100 permanent positions, 75 of which would be dedicated to gathering fuel, while 25 people would operate the plant. Between 80 and 100 truckloads of fuel would be needed daily and would be gathered within a 50-mile radius of each plant.
By Drew Foster, Tri-City Herald – http://www.tri-cityherald.com/kennewick_pasco_richland/story/514732.html
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