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PGE Boardman station biomass test burns extend into 2017

By Anna Simet | January 03, 2017

Portland General Electric’s plans to conduct a 24-hour, full-scale biomass test burn at its 550-MW Boardman Power Station in Boardman, Oregon, have changed a bit, but are still moving forward. PGE Spokesman Steve Corson said that, despite reports that the test burns have been completely delayed, PGE has actually already begun testing the torrefied material, and it was initial findings that prompted the decision to extend testing into the first quarter of the year.

As planned, PGE began a series of cofiring tests over the span of three days in December, according to Corson. “From those tests, we learned that we needed to do some additional turning of the pulverizers to handle the new fuel,” he said.

Due to cold weather increasing demand from customers, Corson said, PGE decided it wasn’t the right time to make the additional pulverizer modifications, and instead will delay the additional 100 percent biomass tests to sometime in Q1 2017, when customer demand decreases.  “It just wasn’t the right time to proceed,” he said.

The Boardman facility was built in the late 1970s, but despite its young age, the state’s decision to phase out coal left Portland General Electric with the decision to switch fuels or close down by 2020. Other fuels and emissions control upgrades have been ruled out as uneconomic, but PGE has been exploring biomass for the past several years.