Renegy biomass plant begins operation

By Susanne Retka Schill
Renegy Holdings Inc. achieved a milestone in late April by bringing its first commercial-scale biomass power plant in Snowflake, Ariz., onto the electrical grid. The Tempe, Ariz.-based company expects to complete performance tests on the 24-megawatt facility and gradually ramp up power output to full load by mid-year.

The plant is using a refurbished Babcock & Wilcox Co. boiler converted to an open-bottom bubbling fluidized-bed combustor, which will create steam for electrical generation. The system was designed to use wet, recycled newsprint fibers from an adjacent newsprint mill as a feedstock, explained Megan Meloni, director of investor relations for Renegy. The newsprint mill, owned and operated by Catalyst Paper Corp., will provide approximately 25 percent of the feedstock for the project. The other 75 percent will be wood waste. "We have a number of contracts with the U.S. Forest Service to clear out fire salvage," Meloni said. Snowflake is near the area where in 2002 the largest forest fire in the history of the Southwest burned more than 475,000 acres.

In addition to the Snowflake plant, Renegy has acquired an idle 13-megawatt biomass plant in Susanville, Calif., that has the potential to be restarted by the end of 2008. The company also recently signed letters of intent to acquire two additional biomass facilities: an operating 20-megawatt facility in Loyalton, Calif., and an idle 18-megawatt facility in Ione, Calif. Renegy's other business activities include an established fuel aggregation and wood products division, which collects and transports wood waste to its power plants, and sells logs, lumber, shaved wood products and other high-value wood byproducts to cover the cost of fuel for its primary business operations. Renegy Holdings was formed in October 2007 though a merger between Catalytica Energy Systems Inc. and the renewable energy divisions of NZ Legacy LLC.

For more information about Renegy, visit