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Alabama sawmill to produce biomass power

By Lisa Gibson | February 08, 2011

Alabama-based land resource organization The Westervelt Co. recently broke ground on a biomass power generating station at its Hale County, Ala., sawmill operation.

A partnership with utility Alabama Power Co., a subsidiary of Georgia-based Southern Co., the project will include installation of a steam turbine to generate 7 megawatts of electricity from the burning of sawmill residues such as bark and sawdust. The facility is expected to begin operating in October of this year, according to Robby Johnson, Westervelt marketing manager. He declined to release a cost estimate for the project, which was initiated by new company Westervelt Renewable Energy.

A long-term power purchase contract between Alabama Power and Westervelt will provide competitively priced renewable energy that will translate into savings for Alabama Power customers, according to Westervelt. “Alabama power is always looking for better and more environmentally friendly ways to produce reliable, cost-effective power for our customers, including alternative and renewable energy,” said John Kelley, director of forecasting and resource planning for the utility.

The groundbreaking was attended by U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., as well as Republican State Sen. Gerald Allen, Johnson said. The renewable energy project is Westervelt’s first and Alicia Cramer, vice president of business development hopes it’s not the last. “We are very excited to launch our first renewable energy project,” she said. “With abundant biomass resources in Alabama, we hope this is one of several projects incorporating wood and related byproducts as an alternative energy source.”