Senator Jon Tester talks jobs and renewable energy in the Flathead Valley.
The Senator started his day at F.H. Stoltze Lumber in Columbia Falls. The mission? To learn more about a biomass energy project the mill is hoping to push forward.
It’s called the Woody Biomass Combined Heat and Power Project. It’s basically a facility that would us leftover wood projects to generate clean, renewable electric power for the Northwest.
Stoltze’s Vice President says it would create 13 new jobs, but also hold on to about 200 current jobs in the forest industry.
The lumber company needs about $54 million dollars to build the facility, but managers say the end results outweigh the initial investment. County Commissioners were there to back up the project.
“This is an instance where I would be wiling to take some risks, because I do think the economic vitality of the forest industry, which is vital for Flathead County, whether people know it, for lots of reasons depends on innovative thinking and use of the biomass that’s out there,” Flathead County Commissioner Joe Brenneman said.
After Stoltze, Senator Tester went on to the Flathead County Landfill to talk more renewable energy. He toured the Flathead Electric site that turns methane gas from the landfill into electric energy. As the trash rots, it produces gas containing methane. The methane is then captured, and used to generate renewable energy. Right now, the landfill’s “Gas-to-Energy Plant” creates enough power for about 900 homes, with the ability to expand.
“This may not be the first in the country, but it’s the first in Montana and I think that if people come here and look at this,it’s really impressive and we’re getting something from a resource that was a liability and make it into an asset,” Senator Tester said. “And that’s really what’s important and I think it’s one of those things that, if we can create a few jobs and make this country more energy independent, it’s a win win deal.”
While in the Flathead, Tester also met with Kalispell Mayor Tammi Fisher and spoke with the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce.
Maritsa Georgiou, KECI (TV) – http://www.keci.com/Senator-Tester-Spends-Presidents–Day-in-the-Flath/6365577