Northwest Renewable News

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Plan for Shelton, WA biomass plant is great news for region February 15, 2010

Filed under: Biomass,Renewable Energy Projects,Washington,Wood Products — nwrenewablenews @ 4:28 pm

Plans are under way to build a $250 million biomass plant near the Shelton Airport with an objective of turning 600,000 tons of wood debris into enough electricity to power 40,000 homes.

A joint venture of Duke Energy and a global energy firm called Areva has a long, long way to go to get the plant off the ground, but it’s exciting to think about the potential to turn mounds of leftover logging debris — stumps and tree limbs — into electrical energy.

We’re a little surprised that company officials rolled out the project without firm contracts with timber companies for the woody debris or contracts with electrical companies to purchase the power generated from the biomass plant. But make no mistake, we’re excited at the possibility of a new source of alternative energy in South Sound.

Today, after a logging company moves through a stand of trees, the remaining woody debris is generally pushed into huge piles that are burned. So-called slash burns pollute the air and pose a serious health risk for individuals suffering from breathing problems. Slash burns are a terrible waste of natural resources. There’s increased pressure from regulatory agencies to reduce slash burning to protect air quality.

State lawmakers and Peter Goldmark, commissioner of public lands, recognized that fact, and are proceeding with a handful of pilot projects to turn logging debris into energy. The state is proceeding with those test projects, but the joint venture involved in the Shelton project is proceeding on its own and is not part of the Department of Natural Resources pilot project.

At the launch announcement in Olympia recently, officials said they hope to break ground by late this year on the power plant on Port of Shelton property near the airport.

The first order of business is to lock up contracts with suppliers of woody debris. “We’re contacting all the major landowners within 50 miles of the plant site,” said Reed Wills, president of the energy startup firm, Adage LLC.

One of the major timber companies in the Shelton area — Green Diamond Resource Co. — is in talks with Adage about supplying feedstock for the plant. “We’re very interested in a biomass plant in our community,” said Patti Case, public affairs manager for Green Diamond, which traces its linage to Simpson Timber Co., founded in 1890 by Solomon Simpson in the tiny town of Matlock.

Adage officials said the power plant would be built to produce 55 megawatts of electricity.

After suppliers are lined up, the next step is to garner environmental and land use approval, then enter into contracts with electrical suppliers willing to purchase the alternative power at competitive prices.

On the environmental front, Adage officials have had preliminary talks with officials at the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency that regulates emissions.

“We’ve had discussions with the company, but they haven’t applied yet for a permit,” said Fran McNair, executive director of the clean air agency. She said the equipment the company plans to use to control emissions appears to meet the agency’s emissions requirements because it is the best available technology.

Community and political leaders were quick to praise the woodwaste-to-energy plan because it’s expected to generate 700 direct and indirect jobs during the two-and-a-half year construction.

The daily operation would require about 100 employees collecting and transporting the woody debris with another couple dozen workers operating the plant.

“There’s a great labor force here — ready, willing and able to work,” said state Rep. Fred Finn, a Democrat whose district includes Mason County.

“This is part of the next chapter in the forest products industry,” said Mason County Commissioner Lynda Ring Erickson.

We would hope the energy company would have little trouble lining up contracts with public utility districts or other energy suppliers who need to add to their inventory of alternative energy sources.

Initiative 937, which was adopted by Washington voters in the 2006 general election, requires PUDs and electrical companies with more than 25,000 customers to focus on conservation and produce certain percentages of alternative energy by specific target dates. The Shelton plant will fill that requirement.

The plan to turn renewable natural resources into energy — energy that reduces both our dependence on foreign oil and reduces greenhouse gas emissions — is a real plus and should be embraced by the entire South Sound.

The Olympian –


5 Responses to “Plan for Shelton, WA biomass plant is great news for region”

  1. GRS Says:

    This is bull. The people are being lied to and no one is speaking up. These are HORRIBLE for the environment and a hundred times worse for our health than slash burns. You have your facts wrong and should research this more before printing articles that will sway people’s opinions. There ARE biomass burn facilities that produce virtually no byproducts, and that is great. The one’s that are planned for Shelton are NOT these type. They are incinerators, old fashioned incinerators, burning not only logging debris, but treated lumber and many other “woody debris.” These types of factories produce more pollution than coal burning plants… and that is a LOT! This will adversely affect our shell fish industry, our real estate prices, our children’s health, and our lives in general. It will ruin our beautiful little town. Even the jobs that are being talked about are lies. We’re looking at under 25 permanent jobs that are not guaranteed to be given to Shelton locals. The contractors that will build the plant will not necessarily be Shelton contractors. The EXTREMELY temporary boon from construction does not make up for the long term effects.
    Please contact me for more info.
    Ginger Seslar

  2. skoksvalley Says:

    Thank you Ginger for speaking out. You are correct in two ways. First this plant will bring pollution. Second this article is very bias. How about building that plant in Olympia, it would still be within 50 miles of the timber company’s land? I bet that would bring a completely different response from the paper. No one wants more pollution. There is a “haze” over the Olympics already from air pollution, we don’t need more. What happens when the mills and logging don’t produce enough to burn? Then what do you burn? I like that companies target economically depressed areas to push questionable development in….

  3. mossy mom Says:

    They are going to burn whole trees,not “logging waste” and when all the trees are gone they will burn sewage sludge and tires. This is a disaster for the region. Adage will pay no B&O tax and no sales tax. All the profits will go to France and the electricty will be sold to California where they have clean air laws to stop this from happening.

    This will plant would have no controls and would produce more filth than the coal buring plant.

  4. Elaine Munro Says:

    There are two ways to burn biomass, one is with a steam boiler which produces 35% electricity and wastes 65% of the fuel; the other is gasification, which is far more efficient. I suspect the Shelton plant uses a steam boiler, which is the same as is being planned for my neighborhood, and we are doing everything we can to educate and object to this plant. All renewable energy projects are not the same. Steam boiler biomass is old technology, uses tree resources inefficiently, will create more traffic and pollution than a more efficient gasification plant.

  5. […]   Click here for King5 coverage of the opposition to the Shelton biomass facility.   Click here for Northwest Renewable News coverage, “Plan for Shelton, WA biomass plant is great news for […]

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