We Energies biomass plant begins commercial operation
We Energies has announced that the biomass-fueled power plant on the site of Domtar Corp.’s Rothschild, Wis., paper mill was placed into commercial operation Friday, Nov. 8, after testing and commissioning activities were successfully completed.
Wood, waste wood and sawdust are being used to produce up to 50 megawatts (MW) of electricity; steam provided by the plant is also supporting Domtar's sustainable papermaking operations.
This new biomass plant adds another technology to the renewable energy portfolio operated by We Energies.
"The addition of the biomass plant enables us to produce renewable energy on demand," said Gale Klappa, We Energies chairman, president and CEO. "That benefit is simply not available with solar or wind generation."
The company's renewable energy portfolio includes the state's two largest wind developments -- the 145-MW Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac County and the 162-MW Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County. Together, these three projects are capable of delivering nearly 360 MW of renewable energy, enough to supply approximately 120,000 homes.
"These renewable energy projects—fueled by Wisconsin resources—were developed largely through the talents of Wisconsin companies and Wisconsin labor," added Klappa.
More than 400 workers contributed to the construction of the biomass plant, which also will support approximately 150 permanent jobs in the region, including independent wood suppliers and haulers from northern and central Wisconsin who will secure waste wood for the project.
Under Wisconsin law, utilities statewide must use renewable energy to meet 10 percent of the electricity needs of their retail customers by the year 2015. With the commercial operation of the Rothschild biomass plant, We Energies estimates that it now has secured enough renewable energy to remain in compliance with the state mandate through 2022.
In addition, Domtar's use of the steam produced by the plant will help improve the paper mill's energy efficiency and reduce overall emissions at the site by more than 30 percent.