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California biomass plant to supply local utility

By Lisa Gibson
Posted November 10, 2009, at 4:21 p.m. CST

When operational in 2010, the Buena Vista Biomass Power facility near Ione, Calif., will supply the Sacramento Municipal Utility District with 16 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to power about 14,000 homes.

The 20-year contract was reached Monday and complements SMUD's goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020, according to Buena Vista Biomass Power LLC. The 18 MW facility is being reconfigured to utilize 210,000 tons of woody biomass from local sources within 50 miles, including forest-sourced wood waste generated as a byproduct of timber harvest, forest fuel treatment and forest restoration activities; agricultural waste such as orchard removals, orchard pruning, shells and pits; and clean urban wood waste such tree trimmings, green waste, construction waste, pallets and clean demolition wood, according to BVBP. The facility will have the capacity to power 16,000 homes.

USDA Forest Services awarded BVBP a Wildland Fire Management grant in excess of $2.4 million that will be used for the project, according to BVBP. The grant is derived from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is specifically geared toward the development and completion of projects that will result in local job creation and responsible wild land fire risk mitigation. The BVBP facility will create more than 50 construction jobs, along with about 90 during service, including about 20 full-time jobs on site to operate and maintain the facility, according to the company. The other 70 will be in various support areas, such as engineering, collection, processing and biomass fuel transportation.

The repowering investment includes substantial efficiency upgrades, a completely integrated emissions system with control technology, a biomass fuel handling system, and an energy-management and operating control system, according to BVBP. The benefits to the region are numerous, including improved air quality, reduced landfill waste, creation of a market for hazardous forest fuels, economic development, a carbon neutral footprint, and a contribution to the tax base, according to the company.
 

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