California forest biomass project scores $5M grant

By Anna Simet | March 28, 2017

A proposed 2-MW biomass power project in California’s Mariposa County has been named recipient of a $5 million California Energy Commission Electric Program Investment Charge grant.

The Mariposa Biomass Project, a nonprofit community group in Mariposa, California, will be located in the Mariposa Industrial Park, near the Mariposa County Solid Waste Facility and PG&E substation.

The project previously received a USDA Forest Service Wood Innovations Grant of $244,000. The latest EPIC grant was part of a two-phase, competitive CEC solicitation to fund applied R&D and technology demonstration and deployment activities to advance bioenergy electricity generation. The solicitation was based on Gov. Jerry Brown’s state of emergency declaration in October 2015 to protect communities against unprecedented tree die-off.

According to the CEC, 57 abstracts were received, 28 of which passed phase 1 screening, and 23 submitted additional proposals that all passed the next screening process.  A total of nine projects have been selected for funding, totaling $23 million.

The Mariposa project also hopes to take advantage of California’s SB 1122, or BioMAT (Biomass Market Adjusting Tariff), which supports small-scale forest biomass energy projects.

The plant will use nearby forest waste as fuel via a multi-stage gasification technology supplied by Cortus Energy. A similar biomass power plant in North Fork, California, currently being constructed by Phoenix Energy, was a previous EPIC grant recipient.

According to a recent project update, the application for Mariposa Biomass Project’s conditional use permit is being filed the week of March 27, an environmental assessment of the site is underway, and engineers have been selected to complete noise and traffic studies, if required as part of the application. MBP also said an engineering firm has been engaged to complete the electrical interconnect application, and expects to file it in early April.