Oregon Sawdust Powers Homes Via Biomass

The state of Oregon has a whole lot of sawdust, thanks to its logging industry and sawmills. Now, some of that biomass will be going to good use, providing power to18,000 homes, courtesy of Iberdola Renewables.

The new biomass plant–located approximately 90 miles east of Iberdrola Renewables’ existing Klamath Cogeneration Plant outside Lakeview, Oregon– will be a combined heat and power (cogeneration) facility, entirely air-cooled, reducing water use by more than 80 percent as compared to conventional cooling technology.

Iberdrola Biomass Plant

image via Iberdrola Renewables

Collins Pine Company has agreed to provide fuel for the plant from a combination of logging and sawmill residuals, courtesy of its Fremont Sawmill, which stands directly adjacent to the biomass plant. Collins’ Lakeview forest operations in the area are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as consistent with their standards for forest management practices. (Which leads us to wonder, will this be the world’s first FSC-certified power plant?)

This looks like a win-win green energy deal for everyone involved, as Collins will also be purchasing the equivalent of two megawatts of steam from the project to run their lumber drying process more efficiently and with lower emissions. The Lakeview Biomass Cogeneration Plant is also expected to create more than 18 family-wage jobs on site, with related thinning and land management practices in the forest resulting in another 50+ jobs.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

    • Chris

      Construction of the Iberdrola’s biomass plant in Lakeview has begun.  The media is full of proud pronouncements, of jobs and saving the Collin’s Mill.  These are great things – were it not for the location adjacent to a former reclamated uranium mill site and in a town with some of the worst particulate air quality in Oregon. Although you did not hear about it in the media, recently Iberdrola gave back $1.7 million dollars of American Reinvestment Act (Stimulus) monies allocated to the Lakeview project.  Why?  To avoid undergoing additional, more rigorous, environmental analysis and public review for the project.  Why do this? One reason is tax credits.  The BETC (energy) tax credits are driving Iberdrola’s businesses decisions and construction of the biomass plant needed to begin prior to January 2011in order to receive these monies. Another reason are new, more stringent, air pollution requirementsthat will apply to biomass plants like that being constructed in Lakeview and that go into effect Janurary 2011.  ComTracking down a regulatory agency, the Oregon Department of Public Healthis responsible for not only public health and safety, but is contracted out by OSHA to be responsible for protecting the health and safety of workers when radiological agents are involved.  While expressing concern, they have shown reluctance in exercising authority to enter the site for testing – even with the existence of groundwater monitoring wells in the area put in place for the purpose of monitoring the radioactive plume of groundwater.  They are making a decision on how to proceed shortly. I would hope that politicians and regulatory agencies are not being co-opted as the project moves forward.  Iberdrola is the largest renewable energy company in the world and brings with it all the political clout national, state and local politicians can trickle down.  Business tax creditsand avoidance of more stringent clean air act / environmental rules should not trump the health and safety of workers and the public alike.   While the biomass project is a good one – its location may not.  Jobs are very important in Lakeview; however, as Lakeview already knows jobs (like those associated with the uranium mill in the past) can come with a high cost.  One can say that the biomass plant project exists only because of past forest mismanagement that were the jobs of the past.    The trick now is to not repeat history.